Darren Bent has expressed his concerns over whether or not Leeds United can sustain the impressive intensity they showed against Liverpool on Saturday over the course of a full Premier League season.
The former England international lavished the Whites with praise for their well-versed and gutsy display against the champions, picking out Jack Harrison and Kalvin Phillips in particular for their performances.
But he also voiced his trepidations as to whether or not Marcelo Bielsa’s gung-ho approach can last in the top flight.
Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: “Leeds were superb, the intensity that they played with – they caused Liverpool problems.
“The finish from Jack Harrison was superb but I think the touch was even better than the finish. It was a great ball from Kalvin Phillips – I think he showed he’s easily good enough to play in the Premier League.
“They made a point, they made an effort, to get in behind Trent [Alexander-Arnold]. It caused him problems all afternoon. What was impressive was that they had a game plan, they were going to dissect Liverpool defensively, and they completely implemented that.
“They were hungry. I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people, but my only concern for Leeds is can they play at that intensity all season? That’s going to be the difficulty.”
👏 “Leeds were superb with the intensity they played with.”
🤩 “Kalvin Phillips showed he is easily good enough for the PL.”
🤔 “Can they play with that intensity all season? That’ll be the difficulty.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) September 14, 2020
To be fair to Bent, this isn’t exactly the first time that Bielsa’s methods have been questioned with regards to their sustainability.
We all know how hard the Argentine pushes his sides, so much so that his infamous ‘Murderball‘ training sessions are generally viewed as more intense than an actual competitive match.
It’s also no coincidence that we see Bielsa repeatedly having these short tenures at clubs.
On average, he lasts just 1.6 years with a side before moving on.
Burnout is definitely a real concern, and when Leeds faded so rapidly towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign, alarm bells must have been ringing around Elland Road.
The key here is that the Whites bounced back magnificently last term, never running out of steam and overwhelming everybody in their path in the fight for promotion.
In a short league campaign with a bit more respite in between matches, you would expect them to be absolutely fine this term.
In other Leeds United news, Laura Woods has made a claim about Leeds she doesn’t know if she was allowed to say.