Marcelo Bielsa praise fans after they sing his name in Arsenal loss

‘It’s an act of love towards the badge’: Marcelo Bielsa praises Leeds fans after they sing his name at the start and end of their sorry defeat by Arsenal… despite Graeme Souness blaming his tactics for the ‘absolute shambles’

  • Graeme Souness criticised Marcelo Bielsa after Leeds lost 4-1 to Arsenal 
  • The result followed on from Leeds’ 7-0 defeat away to Manchester City 
  • Leeds were without a host of players and fans showed their support for Bielsa 

Marcelo Bielsa came under attack on Saturday night after injury ravaged Leeds suffered their second thrashing in four days. 

Fresh off the back of Tuesday’s record 7-0 defeat at Manchester City, the Whites were crushed 4-1 by Arsenal at Elland Road to deepen fears of relegation. 

Afterwards, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness blamed Bielsa’s tactics for Leeds playing like they were in the ‘school playground’, labelling their performance an ‘absolute shambles’. 

Marcelo Bielsa came under attack on Saturday night after Leeds’ second thrashing in four days

 Graeme Souness criticised Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics following Leeds’s 4-1 loss against Arsenal

But the Argentine was backed by the Elland Road crowd, who sang his name at the start and end of the match despite his side’s sorry showing. ‘It’s an act of love towards the badge,’ said Bielsa. 

‘In times where the support mostly only comes when the team is winning, to receive that company and that closeness after a third consecutive defeat — and having conceded 14 goals in three games — distinguishes the public of Leeds. It confirms how unconditional they are with their team.’ 

Leeds have won just one of their last eight Premier League games and it is the first time in Bielsa’s three-and-a-half years at Elland Road that he has suffered three straight league defeats. The Whites are just five points above third-bottom Burnley, who now have three games in hand. 

Bielsa was without 10 players for last night’s match, with eight injured, one suspended and Diego Llorente missing through illness. 

But the Elland Road crowd sang the Argentine’s name at the start and end of the match

‘I can’t ignore that we were missing 10 players,’ said Bielsa. ‘I can’t deny that’s a difficulty, but I can’t justify the defeat due to the absences.’ 

There is no suggestion that Bielsa, who is only on a one-year contract, has lost the backing of the Leeds board and there remains goodwill in the bank after he ended the club’s 16-year absence from the top flight. 

However, the Leeds manager admitted himself in the week that he was not ‘immune’ from the sack and was not ‘vain’ enough to think otherwise. 

Bielsa’s methods also came under fire from Souness, who said: ‘We should be talking about the manager and whether the football will be accepted by fans going forward.

‘This is the longest club side he’s ever managed. Leeds are new to the Premier League. Will they continue to let it happen for the next three or four years? 

It was another heavy defeat for Leeds, who were thrashed 7-0 by Manchester City recently

‘Leeds play like they’re in the school playground. That first half they could have had six or seven goals. They’ve got lots of young players, they’ve got injuries, but you can’t play like that and win in this league. If they continue to play like this they’re bang in trouble. 

‘This is the way they’re being coached to play football. This is what mystifies me. I’m not sure if it’s just about young players, it’s all about how they attempt to play. They’re not good enough to play that way. They’re vulnerable. They’ve lost 6-1, 7-0. They play a brand of football which means they can always get turned over big style.

‘He’s asking players who are not good enough to play like Barcelona from 10, 12 years ago. ‘It’s your job as a manager to get the best of the group of players you’ve got. I just don’t understand how you can expect players to play like that. I’m not sure how long supporters will accept it.’ 

For Arsenal, it was a third consecutive victory and kept them fourth, four points clear of fifth-placed West Ham, who have a game in hand. ‘It was a really tough week but really positive with performances and results,’ said boss Mikel Arteta.

For Arsenal, it was a third consecutive victory and kept them fourth in the league table

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