'I have no idea' - BBC pundit baffled by Bielsa decision, raves about 'impressive' Leeds teen
BBC Radio Leeds pundit Noel Whelan was baffled by Marcelo Bielsa’s substitutions last week as Leeds United drew 3-3 with Cardiff.
Leeds were three goals ahead and cruising towards a victory before a late resurgence by the Bluebirds saw Bielsa’s men drop two points and drop to second in the Championship table.
During that mad half an hour where Leeds lost their lead, Bielsa decided to substitute Gaetano Berardi off and replace him with inexperienced centre-back Pascal Struijk, who then made an error that led to a goal.
Ex-Leeds striker Whelan cannot get his head around what Bielsa was thinking with that change and claims that Olly Casey should be on the bench ahead of Struijk based on recent performances.
“I have no idea why Struijk played instead of Casey,” Whelan told Football Insider. “The young man had looked so impressive against Huddersfield.
“To bring Struijk on against Cardiff for Berardi was baffling. It was a mistake by Marcelo Bielsa.
“In my opinion, the substitution was wrong. He should have kept Berardi on and gone to three at the back to try and weather the storm.
“I know Struijk is taller than Berardi, but he was put on totally cold after not playing all season.”
Leeds could have Liam Cooper back in their starting line-up this weekend after he recovered from a calf injury this week so the discussion about who starts at centre-back could be irrelevant.
But Cooper has injury issues all too often and before the season ends, this issue is bound to crop up once more for Bielsa.
Berardi is not a bad option at centre-back and is definitely good enough to replace Cooper while he’s injured but after them, Casey has so far shown he is the best option out of the Under-23s.
The 19-year-old only played for a few minutes against Huddersfield but showed a lot more composure than Struijk has done in his recent outings for the Whites.
In other Leeds United news, one of Leeds’ January targets is yet to be offered a new contract as his deal winds down at a Championship rival.