Marcelo Bielsa’s calamitous tactical approach to Leeds’ 7-0 thrashing against Manchester City – their biggest defeat in Premier League history -has left pundit Joleon Lescott baffled. The former City defender, who will have enjoyed every aspect of the hosts’ ruthless, attacking masterclass has questioned why the Leeds boss did not contemplate damage limitation.
Despite a spirited effort at Chelsea on Saturday afternoon, Leeds found themselves 2-0 down within 13 minutes against City before going in three goals behind at the break.
Yet instead of reshuffling his back and bidding to keep the score down, Bielsa’s side continued trying to play an expansive game.
What followed was not pretty as City ran riot, eventually netting seven past a virtually helpless Illan Meslier.
BT Sport pundit Lescott was bemused by Bielsa’s stubbornness as he appeared to question his reputation as one of the game’s most lauded coaches.
“I just find it baffling that Bielsa gets so much credit for being this unique tactician but yet he hasn’t been able to see that what he was doing in the first half, how they were playing, wasn’t going to be any different in the second half,” Lescott said.
“It doesn’t surprise me after seeing the first-half that they conceded seven goals.”
Owen Hargreaves was in agreement with Lescott, admitting it was strange to see Leeds still trying to play such an open game.
The former midfielder added: “They kept trying to play at five, six nil and as Joleon was saying, you would’ve thought they’d try and tighten up a little bit defensively but they didn’t.
“They kept trying to play, kept trying to score. He plays his way, that’s his way of playing and I think that’s his biggest loss ever.”
Lescott then added: “It wasn’t surprising that City won the game and even the first half wasn’t a surprise because City can do that to teams and we’ve seen that. The second half was the disappointing thing.
“I’m looking at it, change something, give your players a chance to put up a fight for morale purposes.
“You lose three-nil to Man City you’re disappointed but if you lose seven nil then training is hard, motivation in the next game can be hard as well.”
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Just over a year ago, Bielsa was surprisingly named on the final five-man shortlist for FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year.
The 66-year-old guided the Whites back to the promised land by winning the Championship title.
His side would later go on to finish ninth in their first season back in the top-flight but this time around, they appear to be suffering from second season syndrome.
Leeds currently sit in 16th place, just five points clear of Burnley in 18th, who occupy the final relegation spot.
Bielsa has had a number of high-profile injury problems to contend with though, including last season’s top scorer Patrick Bamford.
After marking his return with a 95th-minute equaliser against Brentford, the England international unfortunately picked up a hamstring problem.
The Elland Road hierarchy are expected to invest in the January transfer window as they look to stay clear of the drop zone.
Following the heavy defeat at the Etihad, Bielsa was brutally honest in his assessment of his side’s performance.
He said: “There is nothing positive to take away from our performance. I don’t find anything that can be valued as is natural in these cases when there is nothing that is well done.
“It is not the individuals that fail, but the conduction and organisation. There is no justification I can offer, the game was exactly how we thought it was going to be. We prepared ourselves to avoid everything that happened, and we didn’t manage to get anything.”