By George Overhill

26th Feb, 2022 | 10:15am

Martin Keown slams Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United tactics

Marcelo Bielsa’s refusal to change his tactical set-up is making Leeds United “too weak to get a result” as opponents have worked it out, says Martin Keown.

United have lost their last three games, conceding 13 times along the way, and evidence is mounting that other teams know how to overcome the manager’s system.

His side now sits three points above the bottom three and fears of relegation are becoming real.

Writing in the Daily Mail, former Arsenal defender Keown says: “Leeds’ unwavering man-to-man system is doing more harm than good right now.

“Just 44 seconds into [the 4-2 Manchester United defeat] you could see the visitors toying with their opponents’ obsession with man-marking.”

He cites examples of Whites players following opponents round the pitch as proof that “[Manchester] United’s players were leading their Leeds markers on a merry dance”.

Keown also highlights Joel Matip’s goal at Anfield and Bruno Fernandes’ at Elland Road as examples of free centre backs taking advantage of the system.

“This is the Marcelo Bielsa way and he refuses to deviate from it.

“It is a very single-minded system and it shows too much attention to the opposition and does not allow his team to play their own game in a creative manner.”


The past few results, and particularly the number of goals conceded, have invited heavy scrutiny and criticism of the manager’s methods.

The Argentine’s system has brought United back to the top flight and inspired those around the club in a way not seen for years prior to his arrival.

But if it is as simple as a matter of opposing managers having figured him out it is majorly concerning that he appears incapable of adjustment.

Leeds are not an all-powerful behemoth like Manchester City or Liverpool who can rely on adhering to Pep Guardiola’s or Jurgen Klopp’s tactics and overwhelming most opponents.

Even the table-topping Catalan manager has been criticised in the past for not having a plan B on the rare occasions that he has been bested.

So it can only go down as a big problem if Bielsa keeps setting out the same way and seeing it picked apart without evolving at all.

The circumstances of this season, most notably missing Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford for so long, have conspired to create a nightmare situation for the 66-year-old.

But the way he has dealt with it has fairly invited a reassessment of his powers.

The majority would still prefer him back next season to go again with a fit squad but that ship may have sailed, as The Telegraph reports that a change could be near.

In other Leeds United news, Tim Sherwood has made some bold claims on the club’s chances for the rest of the season.