Joleon Lescott made a bizarre claim before Leeds United’s win over Manchester City during BT Sport’s coverage of the match – suggesting that under Marcelo Bielsa cannot take Leeds forward with his renowned style of play. He thinks that Leeds have reached a “ceiling” under the Argentine and that European football is not a possibility with this style – only for Leeds to go and beat his old side City 2-1, with 10 men.
Leeds have been sensational since promotion from the Championship. Spending less than the likes of Aston Villa when they gained promotion, and Fulham in the summer of 2018, Leeds have defied the odds to climb even into ninth place after 31 Premier League games with the 2-1 win – albeit, Arsenal then leapfrogged Leeds again, on Sunday evening.
Pundits have suggested Leeds would suffer from burnout – that has been proven wrong. Pundits have suggested Leeds only gained promotion because of the suspension of play – again, a theory that has been proven wrong. For Lescott, his theory that Leeds have reached a ceiling and that they cannot improve under Bielsa’s system was immediately proved wrong – when they beat Man City at The Etihad 2-1, thanks to a Stuart Dallas brace.
Lescott told BT Sport’s coverage of the win on Saturday: “I think they’re close to a ceiling. His style is unique in that a lot of it is man to man. In the Championship, they had the players that are better than the opposition. Eight, nine times out of ten – they’re going to win. At this level, you’re talking world-class players. You can’t expect to have the best seven or eight players on the pitch and expect to win. But they’ve done exceptionally well.
Then, the former Manchester City defender’s claim was unravelled by presenter Jake Humphrey – who asked why Leeds have reached a ceiling if they could not then buy better players that buy into Bielsa’s way of thinking. He made a strange suggestion, stating that Leeds needed to respect the opposition players more. Sitting back and enjoying just 29% of possession against City, they did just that – rubbishing Lescott’s claim.
“I don’t think they have exceeded his expectations, but I don’t think they become a European team with this style. You have to respect opposition. Pep, Sir Alex, two of the best managers in the Premier League – they adapted and respected the opposition. World-class players can produce moments that define why they are world class.”