Phil Hay: Bielsa seriously considered axing Leeds mainstay in Jan, would have been 'huge shock'
Athletic journalist Phil Hay has said he was told that Marcelo Bielsa was “seriously considering” dropping Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich in January.
And he added that would have come as a “huge shock”.
Klich has played every single Championship game since Bielsa arrived at the club but Leeds hit a horrible slump in form that started in mid-December after they collapsed in the game against Cardiff when they were 3-0 up.
A win against Cardiff would have made it eight on the bounce but instead Leeds went on a run of seven games with just one win – and that was the crazy 5-4 against Birmingham that needed an own goal deep in injury time.
Writing in a Q&A on the Athletic on Wednesday Hay said, “He [Klich] is vital, as shown by the fact that Bielsa never, ever drops him.
“Someone suggested to me that he [Bielsa] was seriously considering replacing Klich at the end of January (around the time of the dramatic win over Millwall) but it’ll be a huge shock the day when Klich is named on the bench.”
Leeds beat Millwall 3-2 and although they went on to lose the next two games, their fortunes picked up after a 1-1 draw against Brentford.
Leeds then won the next five games to go top of the Championship – the last games before the season was suspended.
During the horrible run of form, plenty of Leeds fans were calling for changes to be made but Bielsa kept faith with his core group of players.
The interesting thing is that Bielsa was considering a major change behind the scenes but, like Hay said, dropping Klich would have been a shock.
He hasn’t added the goals that he got last season but he’s been a key part of the Bielsa system.
As LUFCDATA pointed out, he’s created 69 chances in the Championship – the second most in the Leeds side.
Mateusz Klich is Leeds' second-most creative player this season, having created 69 chances in the Championship. His fluidity of movement and influence on this side is instrumental. So effective at operating within the half spaces, and from high and wide on the right flank. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/sQTk7uSjYs
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) March 26, 2020
Most of the fans wanted to see a change up front, with Patrick Bamford struggling but with Jean-Kevin Augustin lacking match fitness and then picking up an injury, Bielsa had no other realistic options.
In other Leeds United news, Leeds get major promotion boost after key decision reported on Wednesday; EFL make statement