Former Premier League striker Darren Bent believes that Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is to blame for the team’s recent slip-ups that have threatened to destroy their hopes of promotion.
Goals have been a problem for Bielsa’s side, with an own-goal by West Brom’s Semi Ajayi their only one since the turn of the year, while striker Patrick Bamford – who missed a penalty last weekend – has taken plenty of stick from fans as they have won just one of their last seven league games.
However, speaking to Football Insider, Bent defended Bamford and insisted that despite his barren spells in front of goal, Bielsa’s persistent selection of him leaves the Argentinian most to blame for Leeds’ shortcomings in the past month or so.
He said: “I don’t know if you can put it on Bamford. Obviously this season he’s had games where he’s not scored, he missed a penalty [against QPR], but then Bielsa’s got to take the blame there, as well. He’s been so Bamford-heavy, they lost [Eddie] Nketiah because he wasn’t getting enough game time there, so he went back.
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“I think Bielsa’s got to have a good look at himself and say: ‘I might have made a mistake here.’ I get Bamford’s a good player and he loves playing him but at the same time, when there were times when he wasn’t doing it, he still continued to play him.”
It seems rather unfathomable to suggest that Bielsa would get away with any criticism should Leeds once again fail to reach the Premier League – especially after having played so well to boast such a large advantage over their rivals for automatic promotion at one stage.
Bent rather rightly acknowledges Bamford’s poor scoring run, while also highlighting Bielsa’s fairly narrow-minded selection policy. It appears as though Eddie Nketiah’s recall was down to the fact he was used sparingly at Elland Road, with the striker’s first league start not arriving until December – by which point, Bamford had recovered his scoring touch having gone 10 consecutive league matches without netting prior to early November.
Therefore, it could be argued that it would be harsh to pin all of Leeds’ ills on the striker – particularly as he does not seem to be punished by a lack of goals – not that Bielsa can call upon many alternatives. While that could be partly of Bielsa’s making, it hardly seems fair to leave the manager blameless as Leeds’ promotion campaign hangs in the balance.
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