Marcelo Bielsa has been praised for catalysing an improvement in previously lacklustre Leeds players but there is growing evidence to suggest his impact is starting to have an effect on a largely disappointing summer signing, namely Jack Harrison.
Harrison arrived at Elland Road in the summer on a season-long loan deal from Manchester City with huge expectation. Any player arriving from a club of City’s stature was bound to draw plenty of interest and murmurs emerging from the Etihad hinted that Leeds had secured a hidden gem.
But pre-season expectation fell flat and Harrison’s inexperience has manifested itself all too regularly since arriving at the club; fleeting moments of brilliance have been evident but the 21-year-old has largely been ineffective.
Despite his obvious struggle to adapt to Championship football, Bielsa has refused to give up on the winger and he handed him his 12th league start of the season against Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.
Harrison was only afforded 45 minutes of action before he was replaced by Jack Clarke at half-time, but he clearly made a lasting impact on Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Phil Hay.
‘Bielsa looked for a reaction and got it from Jack Harrison, the winger he has persevered with despite so many ineffectual outings. Harrison made Leeds tick on the right, providing Gjanni Alioski with a header which Alioski nodded over and timing a pass nicely to allow Roofe to shoot at Costel Pantilimon. Forest’s goalkeeper stood up to the effort and brought it under control.’
Well, Bielsa’s decision to bring Harrison off at half-time perhaps suggests that he didn’t share Hay’s enthusiasm for his performance, but it must be noted that Kalvin Phillips’ red card shortly before the break influenced his decision.
With Clarke netting another senior goal against Forest the pressure is mounting on Harrison to improve and deliver more performances of the promise he showed at the City Ground, otherwise he may find himself on the fringes of Bielsa’s plans in the final months of the season.
The season has already underlined how every single player available to Bielsa will need to chip in at some point if Leeds want to clinch promotion, and Harrison is certainly no exception to the rule.
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