Danny Murphy and Gary Lineker bemused by Marcelo Bielsa's 'really strange' Raphinha decision for Leeds United
Danny Murphy and Gary Lineker were confused by Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to substitute Raphinha as Leeds United lost badly at Everton.
The star Brazilian was taken off at half-time as the Whites fell to a miserable 3-0 loss to Frank Lampard’s side which sees the winners climb to just one point behind United with a game in hand.
The manager confirmed after the game that it was a tactical switch, not an injury, saying (via Daily Mail): “He is not injured. I decided that Daniel James should take over his role on the right and Tyler Roberts take over in the centre”.
The BBC men could not understand the move on Match of the Day Saturday night (February 12) with host Lineker asking: “Bit of a surprise, eight goals this season, probably their best player?”
Former Liverpool midfielder Murphy was unequivocal: “It was a mistake. He was playing alright. He was causing [Jonjoe] Kenny a good few problems.
“Okay he hadn’t scored or set up a goal but… you’re 2-0 down in a game, you need your best player.
“Maybe he was setting an example for something he saw, an incident. But I didn’t see enough in that first half performance to warrant him being brought off.
“It was a really strange decision.”
The visit to Goodison Park was a concern for everyone at Leeds as they were outplayed and out-pressed by the side below them.
Without even getting into the Lampard vs Bielsa debate, it was galling for Whites fans to see the home side, so limp in their defeat at Newcastle in midweek, apparently beat the Argentinian at his own game.
The barnstorming 3-3 draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday had contained a number of positives, but very few were on display on Saturday.
Not only were three more goals conceded, but for the second match running, United’s best player was off form.
Having impressed on international duty with Brazil and been the subject of a £50million transfer bid from West Ham in January (90min) it is fair to wonder whether the player has been unsettled.
Either way it was a surprise to see him removed so early, and it could be that the boss was looking to shock him back into form for the next game.
The 25-year-old has been a reliable performer this season, with relatively few support acts, so it is imperative that he does not drop off now if the club are going to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.
In other Leeds United news, it has been suggested that insistence on his replacement Tyler Roberts could cost the manager his job.