Bielsa explains Roberts substitution
Tyler Roberts came on at half-time in the game against West Brom on Tuesday night but suffered the embarrassment of being subbed off himself just 30 minutes later.
Marcelo Bielsa apologised after the game and said that it wasn’t Roberts but the game that necessitated the switch.
Leeds were 1-0 up but under heavy pressure in the second half of the game, with the Baggies dominating possession and threatening an equaliser.
Bielsa moved to bring on defender Luke Ayling, with Roberts visibly unhappy with the substitution.
Bielsa took time out again on Thursday to explain what had happened in full in his pre-match press conference (live in the LUFC app, 12.30pm).
“He [Roberts] shows a lot of generosity with me,” Bielsa said, “but he knows my decision touched him and even he understands the situation.
“I know with this decision that I hurt him and it is difficult to overcome in a short time.
“Fifteen years ago I took one similar decision and after 15 years the player who I took off of the pitch, he is a very good person, he couldn’t assimilate this moment even after 15 years.
“What he said in the press is he regrets himself in that moment to say nothing to me, to give me a strong message. That means for him, a footballer, it is difficult to accept these kind of decisions.
“What I can explain is I made a mistake after the first half. I interpreted one situation in the game and that moment did not happen.
“I thought if we were going to put one player more offensive we were going to be able to adapt to this moment. After the match it was more difficult than I thought and the player had to try to resolve some situation.
“That is not my high point and after, if I don’t take a second decision, there is going to be a second mistake, but if I correct the mistake, I will hurt the player.”
It’s yet another classy gesture from a manager who lives and breathes every decision he makes. The team has to come first but Bielsa understands the individual and how a player will feel after being subbed as a sub.
It’s a rare occurrence in football and Bielsa knows how it can affect a player, after admitting a player was still feeling a similar incident 15 years ago.
Roberts hasn’t had an easy time at Leeds, suffering from a number of injuries since he joined from West Brom. He’s only made 31 appearances and the West Brom game marked just his second appearance since returning from the injury that kept him out of the end of last season.
He had just been hitting his best form then and we’ve no doubt he’ll rediscover that form this season.
He’s only 20 and his best is yet to come.