Patrick Bamford
Marcelo Bielsa has England and the world tuned to his channel and it’s a joy to watch
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Football in 2020, and thus now 2021, has been relentless. There has been football nearly every week since Project Restart began with the exception of the ten days between the end of last season and the start of the European games.Yes, and that one month break that teams not playing European football got while the others had three weeks, or thereabouts. Which means that for Manchester United, for example, their season, after a foray into the Europa League, ended on August 16th and restarted September 19th. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, saw their season end on July 26th and restart on the 12th of September.It’s the difference of a few weeks and change but the point of the matter is that football has been relentless. And it has only become worse as the season has worn on with there a Premier League, League Cup or an FA Cup game live on at least 27 of the 30 days. Don’t get it wrong, this is not to criticize or hate on the product but just a showcase on how nuts it has been so far. That has had some adverse effect on a few people with football watchers reducing by the minute.Naturally, people still pay attention to what might be, arguably, the greatest title race in the history of the Premier League but the number of people watching every single match has reduced. Few can blame them because COVID-19 has forced fed football to people every single day and while that isn’t a bad thing, for most of them the game was a distraction.A weekend distraction from their daily lives, because no matter how bad or good it had been during the week, a terrible game of football always proved to be a cathartic release. But when games are played back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, it becomes hard to differentiate what day of the week it is. Everything merges into one, all-mighty mush of memories with very little to knock about the difference between a 1-0 win for Burnley against Liverpool and that 1-0 win for West Ham over Burnley.Because as far as many are concerned, it’s all the same when the reality is a far cry from exactly that. It’s why the FA Cup and watching the joy of the cup brought about a genuine change for many people. Especially when you watch non-league side Chorley beat Derby County in what was a breath of fresh air of attacking football. Because there were two teams, who had nothing to lose which meant that they were simply going at it for 90 minutes.Tim Stillman put it brilliantly in a Twitter thread, that has now been lost on the interweb, but the basis of it was how a lot of football is average and forgettable. Now while that is an opinion many fans won’t agree with, it is true and especially applies to the Premier League over the last few years. And you can’t really blame the teams especially when they’ve got 120 million, for the teams that finish 17th with that figure rising, on the line. That is just for surviving in the Premier League and that is a helluva lot of money.So you can’t really blame teams like Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, or even a Burnley when they replace an identity for stability and something that will help them survive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t really make for great viewing or a great spectacle which is possibly, ever so slightly, why so many Newcastle United fans hate Steve Bruce with such venom. Because here is a manager who is doing nothing more than helping the Magpies survive a Premier League season.Nothing more, nothing less and sure while some of them are still peeved at the fact that the takeover didn’t take place, the rest are more angry at the football on show. Why? Because of Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United, and their absolutely insane, very very entertaining brand of football. So much so, that there is a saying now that floats across the Twitter-web, across podcasts, across the interweb, across articles and it says “always watch Leeds United”. Leeds United aka the Entertainers © @ Twitter Because within two and a half years, Marcelo Bielsa has transformed this team from a mid-table under-achieving side to a team that is now going head-to-head with England’s best. And they’re having fun, playing a brand of football that is a breath of fresh air to what had become a stagnant league despite it boasting the Klopps and Guardiolas.Not since Norwich City and Daniel Farke stuck to their principles, since Pep Guardiola brought his magic to England, since Jose Mourinho and his glittering disdain for everything done by Arsene Wenger has the league seen something this transformative. It has changed the way many view football, Marcelo Bielsa, and even the way a few measure success. Because here is a side that have scored 30 goals and conceded 34 with them on par to concede a record number of goals, (81 according to statistics experts which decimates most records).But yet Bielsa won’t change. Here is a side that beat Newcastle United 5-1, lost to Manchester United 6-2 then beat Burnley and West Bromwich Albion by a combined 6-0 scoreline. Then they lost to League Two side Crawley Town 3-0 in the FA Cup and the emotional roller coaster goes on. 23 league games played and yet every single Leeds United game is like watching a brand new one. But even now after consecutive losses across the league and cup, Bielsa will never change and that is just a part of the fun.Watching a stubborn old man stick to his principles, his ideals perched on a stool while the new world order battles and tries to belittle him makes it even better. Stick this in a courtroom and no lawyer would ever cross-examine and hit out at the man the way many pundits and football experts across the interweb have and yet Bielsa doesn’t seem to care. And why would he? The job of a manager is to opt for a style, then ensure that style allows his team to overcome their opponents and achieve the results they need. Marcelo Bielsa His side sit 10th in the Premier League, the drop zone is SEVENTEEN points away, they have the joint (level with Chelsea) fifth-best attacking record (according to goals-scored) and that is despite all the injuries they’ve had. It’s a joy to watch Bielsa’s murder-ball, even if his side does look tired now, and it’s why Magpies hate Steve Bruce so much. Because once upon a time Kevin Keegan’s Magpies used to be called the “entertainers of the Premier League” but now, that title has been bestowed upon Leeds United and they’re doing a lot more than justice to it.They’ve somehow managed to elevate it to a new level while playing football amongst the super-elite and the billionaire-funded clubs. That’s something Keegan’s Magpies never had to deal with and yet, Marcelo Bielsa continues on with not a care in the world and that makes it even better. Because despite a few billionaire-funded thrashings, with a few more set to arrive around the corner, and a few weird results, Leeds United are not going to change.Sure, they do look tired right about now but that has always been the case with the Peacocks especially under Bielsa. But don’t worry, they tend to recover towards late-February before finding a brand-new level. And yet, even that is under a cloud of doubt. Because for those who know their Bielsa history, this is a man who couldn’t give a damn and could just leave/disappear into thin air at a moment’s notice.Think back to a two-day spell at Lazio, his threat to leave the Chilean national team. and then him following through on that despite the fact that the election to appoint Jorge Segovia as President of the Chilean Football Board was annulled. Then go to the chaos with Olympique Marseille where he resigned after the opening game of the 2015/16 season with a simple "I have finished my work here, I will return to my country." Many never liked that but it has only added to El Loco's charm and the mystique around the 65-year-old.So, enjoy it, revel in this because in this relentless age of football, in this 24-hour news cycle that demands instant gratification, in a world filled with revolving doors for managers, we just don’t know how long this will last. Either way, one thing is clear. Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa are a credit to the league, so strap in for the wildest ride of your lives because even if you try to outlive him, you will end up being swallowed by the shark.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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How Leeds United could line up against Crystal Palace
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Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa could name an unchanged side when his charges take on Crystal Palace on Monday evening.During the week, Leeds lost 2-1 at home to Everton in what was a disappointing result in the Premier League.However, a flurry of injury concerns means that Bielsa may opt to name the same starting XI that came undone against the Toffees.Diego Llorente, Gaetano Berardi, Rodrigo Moreno, Robin Koch, Adam Forshaw and Ian Poveda are all missing, though none of them were indeed involved in the midweek clash.Illan Meslier will start in goal, behind a back four of Luke Ayling, Pascal Struijk, LIam Cooper, and Ezgjan Alioski, will continue in his deeper role at left-back.Kalvin Phillips is a sure-fire starter with Mateusz Klich partnering him in central midfield.Big summer signing Raphinha has four goal contributions in his past three games via two scored himself plus two assists, and will start on the right-hand side. Against Everton, he netted the consolation goal and was unlucky to be on the loside team.Stuart Dallas and Jack Harrison will complete the attacking midfield trio behind the striker.Patrick Bamford is the first name on the teamsheet under Bielsa these days, and will lead the line against Palace.The only players available that could potentially have a shout of breaking into the XI that started midweek are Tyler Roberts and Helder Costa.Leeds United predicted XI against Crystal Palace .
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The proof that Leeds’ Patrick Bamford should be in the England squad
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Patrick Bamford has shocked the nation with his impressive displays for Leeds United in the Premier League this season. His scintillating form throughout the current campaign has left many calling for the 27-year-old to be handed his first senior England call-up, and it's easy to understand why.Being ‘first reserve’ is never an accolade that elite-level footballers aspire to achieve. It was enough to force Jamie Vardy into an early international retirement, but with Harry Kane’s latest injury setback, it could be one of the most important positions in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the upcoming European Championship.There were many doubts over the former Chelsea man’s ability to make the step up to the top flight, even before the 2019/20 season had drawn to a conclusion. A LeedsLive article published back in March read: “Unless Marcelo Bielsa can find a striker, the Whites' return to the top-flight risks being short-lived…Patrick Bamford might have scored 13 league goals this season, but he has missed many more chances than he has converted, while his link-play is far short of the required level.”Eleven goals and six assists after 21 games would suggest otherwise. However, it is easy to understand where the concern stemmed from. Bamford ended last season with 16 goals, meaning he was behind the likes of Karlan Grant and Nahki Wells in the Championship goalscoring charts - two players who have found life in the top division too much to handle. It was the largest haul he had managed since 2014/15, and in his previous Premier League endeavours, on loan at Crystal Palace, Burnley and Middlesbrough, the Englishman managed a solitary goal in 27 outings.His consistently impressive performances have, therefore, been one of the most surprising aspects of an incredibly unpredictable campaign. Bamford is arguably playing in the most demanding position in the sport for the most demanding manager in the division. His job is not simply to put the ball in the back of the net, he is tasked with so much more than your average No.9. A striker under Marcelo Bielsa is charged with leading the press, and consequently, needs to be incredibly mobile. It is also essential that they are tactically astute. Bamford will often vacate the central area, either by drifting out wide, running into the channels, or dropping between the lines. There are several benefits to this, although the two most obvious advantages are what Leeds profit from the most. Midfielders and wingers will often arrive late in a move, filling the void that Bamford has created in the centre of the attacking third, either looking for a slipped through ball or playing a wall pass and latching onto a quick one-two in order to get in on goal. That is exactly what happens below. Here, Bamford has pulled out wide and is just about to receive a pass from Luke Ayling after the full-back has made one of his customary sprints forward down the right-hand side. That, in turn, allows Stuart Dallas to burst into the vacant space in the middle and look for a through ball by Bamford......the frontman duly obliges, and Dallas fires the pass into the far corner to level things up against Leicester. In the next instance, Bamford peels off his marker and intelligently drops between the defensive and midfield lines, offering his services to an onrushing Jack Harrison. The Manchester City loanee lends his teammate the ball before carrying on his run into the penalty area, hoping for a return pass that arrives perfectly weighted. Harrison then blasts the ball into the top corner and effectively seals a resounding victory for the Yorkshire side against West Brom. So Bamford's strengths are clear for all to see, but that doesn't automatically earn him a place on the plane this summer. Southgate will likely take three strikers to the European Championship - and bar any revival of an episode like Wayne Rooney's metatarsal - Kane will certainly be one of them. Some may point to Marcus Rashford as another, though, the Manchester United man hasn't been used as a starting striker for England since June 2019 in the semi-final defeat to the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League. He is, therefore, more likely to take up residence on the left-wing. That leaves the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings, Callum Wilson, Tammy Abraham, Ollie Watkins and Bamford fighting it out for two spots. SmarterScout is a site that collects detailed data and analytics from players across the world and assigns a score between 0-99 to their attributes. How do each of the aforementioned players compare?As you can see - by hovering over the colour key - Bamford only shares 'receiving in the box' with Abraham, in which he scores higher, 'shooting' with Watkins, in which he is accredited the highest possible rating, and 'attacking output' with Calvert-Lewin and Watkins, who both score 74 compared to Bamford's 61. What the Leeds man offers, then, is something different, something unique and what he does bring to the table he is generally very good at. In the last three England games that Kane has been unavailable or left on the bench, against Wales, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland, Everton's Calvert-Lewin has been the man chosen to lead the line. His goalscoring prowess and ability to bring others into play deservedly earned him his first international caps in 2020 and he is probably the front runner in this particular race. But Bamford's game differs to that of his compatriot, and there is certainly room for both in Southgate's squad. Just looking at where the two receive their passes gives a clear indication of the contrast in styles. Bamford pass receive map 2020/21 Calvert-Lewin pass receive map 2020/21While it is common for the Toffees forward to pick up the ball in all areas of the pitch, thanks to his all-action style, Bamford's work is much more concentrated. With the abundance of attacking midfielders and forwards at England's disposal, surely the appeal of a player whose link-up play has excelled this season will be enticing to those making the decisions over the summer. In truth, nobody would envy the call Southgate has to make in just a few weeks. All of the strikers previously mentioned have their strengths and weaknesses and unique elements. But the fact Bamford has even managed to propel his name into the same bracket deserves credit in itself. Ultimately though, a No.9 will be judged on their goals, and unlike in Leeds' promotion-winning campaign, Bamford has had no trouble in finding the back of the net. Premier League" aria-label="chart" id="datawrapper-chart-iYJsD" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/iYJsD/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="400"He's an agile, unselfish, intelligent, creative goalscorer. Not a bad set of attributes to have when six doesn't go into two and you have to stand out from the crowd. Bamford is having the best season of his career, and he couldn't have timed it any better. .
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