Leeds United will want to forget their first game in the EFL Trophy as a top-flight side.
Marcelo Bielsa opted to put his Under-18s into the game against League One Accrington Stanley and they were smashed 7-0.
They were 5-0 down by half-time before rallying slightly and conceding just two more in the second half at the Wham Stadium.
Plenty of Leeds fans weren’t happy and some tore into Bielsa for the decision to play the academy kids, saying that it would harm their progress and damage their confidence.
There’s a bit more at play here, though.
For starters, the decision was a pragmatic one based on the reality of the Premier League starting this weekend and current COVID-19 guidelines.
If the club had played the Under-23s, including more senior players such as Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood, they would not have been able to train with the first-team players ahead of the game against Liverpool. There’s an in-house game planned for today.
That has to be the priority at the moment and this was a straight choice between a strong EFL Trophy side and maximising first-team training.
We’re sure that Leeds United will put out a more senior side in the other EFL Trophy games and we think this is more a case of bad timing than anything else.
As for damaging the youngsters, there was only one professional in the side and the players will have been warned what was to come.
The game was pretty brutal for them but it should serve as a reminder of the levels they have to reach in the future.
We think Bielsa made the right call in difficult circumstances. These fans took a different view last night but will hopefully reconsider after reading this…
Embarrassing, cruel and disrespectful from the club. The EFL Trophy doesn’t deserve respect, but these kids are being destroyed by professionals at a good level. What point does this serve? The club should apologise to these kids.
— Total Leedsball 🏆 (@TotalLeedsball) September 8, 2020
Doesn’t look good this at all really…. Deserves the backlash I’m hoping it gets really. Should be an honour for a few lads to play their first match against a professional team but instead a full team of youngsters are subject to this
— James Courtney (@jcourts1991) September 8, 2020
But why have we allowed this? Even with 15 u23s playing against the senior side tomorrow there’s still 5-10 that could play today in this
— Joe Atherton (@joetmatherton) September 8, 2020
Think there’s only Josh Galloway who’s above 17, I know it doesn’t necessarily matter but don’t know why we had to go SO young. What do these lads get out of a hammering?
— Shaun (@ShaunPK92) September 8, 2020
It’s embarrassing and disrespectful from Bielsa. This result will stick in the players heads
— wanderlust (@Wanderlust8119) September 8, 2020
It’s disgusting who’s ever idea it was to play these kids , this could damage a few of them , they look deflated
— boris lufc 🏆 (@ClorleyAndrew) September 8, 2020
I’m surprised Bielsa’s OK’d this. Bit crushing for kids so young
— PaulLUFC 🏆 (@PaulLUFC1919) September 8, 2020
Embarrassing decision from club
— Anthony Jones (@Anthony62234278) September 8, 2020
Not good for anybody to get beat like this ☹
— Stuart Anslow (@StuAnsie) September 8, 2020
What is the benefit to anyone here?
— BBBBBBBielsa (@robhlufc) September 8, 2020
In other Leeds United news, These Leeds fans all saying the same thing about Rodrigo as Spain smash Ukraine 4-0