Leeds United running less, Jamie Shackleton’s future, a Juan Mata type – Behind the scenes

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Gian: “Centre midfield is a glaring problem at the moment with Kalvin Phillips clearly needing quality support ahead of him. Feel like Leeds are constantly looking for a bargain rather than signing proven quality and paying more. Any chance of spending in January?”

BC: “For what it’s worth, I think the midfield did a lot better on Saturday. Klich and Dallas were something much closer to their best, but I agree they still feel light when injuries and suspensions hit. I don’t think Leeds are looking for a bargain in the sense they only want back-ups for less than GBP2.5m, but I think they should be applauded for seeking out value in the market. Raphinha, Koch and Llorente look incredible value for the prices paid. The problem with January business is you’re always fighting an uphill battle to make it work under Bielsa. Assuming you sign the player in mid to late January. They need six weeks with the under-23s before they’re ready physically and tactically for Bielsa. You’re looking at the final six weeks of a season for the player to have an impact. If there was some form of injury crisis, then I am sure the club would act, but it seems highly unlikely if the squad is largely available to Bielsa through the second half of the season.”

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Miggyshane: “Hi Beren, could you please shed a bit of light on why Leeds paid so much for Firpo as you can clearly see his defensive frailties, there were times last weekend when he was caught out in the centre of the park and with the showings so far we would have been a lot better and financially keeping Alioski, cheers.”

BC: “On the face of it, picking up a Barcelona left-back for less than GBP15m looked good value and it’s too early to say it won’t prove to be good value. We are six league matches into Firpo’s Leeds career. It’s unfair to say he’s not going to work out for United. The raw materials are there. It’s down to him and Bielsa to unlock that potential. Alioski was a separate matter. The club wanted to keep him, made him an offer, but the bottom line is he was offered a lot more money elsewhere and he has a family to think about long after retirement.”

ACJosh: “Hi Beren, any chance we see Bamford on the pitch this weekend?”

BC: “Hey, Josh. Hope you’re keeping well Stateside. Missed my podcast fix on Monday morning. Hope you both enjoyed your trip away. We’ll hear from Bielsa on Bamford tomorrow, but fingers are crossed on Patrick given he was seen at a city event out and about last Monday. The fact he hobbled through the latter stages of the Newcastle game gives me hope, but like last week, Marcelo will make it clear tomorrow hopefully.”

Craig92: “With our current injury crisis and gap left by not bringing in a central midfielder. Could this push Orta to be active in January? Or is it more a case of should the right player be available we will make a move.”

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BC: “The problem with January business is you’re always fighting an uphill battle to make it work under Bielsa. Assuming you sign the player in mid to late January. They need six weeks with the under-23s before they’re ready physically and tactically for Bielsa. You’re looking at the final six weeks of a season for the player to have an impact. If there was some form of injury crisis, then I am sure the club would act, but it seems highly unlikely if the squad is largely available to Bielsa through the second half of the season.”

Craig92: “Where do club see Shackleton best position, as he is reaching an age where needs regular football. Drameh looks like he could earn a spot at right-back in future. Could Shackleton follow Poveda and make a loan move in January or next summer.”

Jamie Shackleton has featured plenty this season

BC: “Marcelo has let his selections do the talking. Evidently, he sees Jamie as a right-back or central midfielder, with a dash of defensive midfielder in there too. I do agree with you though, and I am sure Jamie would too. He needs to nail down a position and nail down some regular minutes for the long-term sake of his career. Thankfully, he has been involved quite a lot at the start of this season. Shackleton has played the equivalent of four full matches in the eight Leeds games have had this term. If that ratio drops off a cliff between now and January they may review his situation, but, let’s be honest, they don’t really have the squad depth to deal with Shackleton going out too.”

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Stephen J: “I always thought Juan Mata would be perfect for Leeds in January until the end of the season. I know he’s not on our radar but I can’t help but think he’s the type we are missing.”

BC: “I have always admired Mata from afar. His professionalism and personality have come across very well, but I don’t think his physical attributes would hold up to well in Bielsa’s system. I think Rodrigo provides that kind of Mata-like guile from the centre of the park, but as we have seen, he has struggled with the midfield game without the ball. Ironically, someone like Conor Gallagher seems ideal to me in that position.”

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Jiggs: “Bamford injury update? What are the chances that he will be fit to face Watford this weekend?”

BC: “We’ll hear from Bielsa on Bamford tomorrow, but fingers are crossed on Patrick given he was seen at a city event out and about last Monday. The fact he hobbled through the latter stages of the Newcastle game gives me hope, but like last week, Marcelo will make it clear tomorrow hopefully.”

White Lion: “Hi Beren. I read recently that Leeds’ running stats, whilst high, are less than the start of last season. What’s your view on this? Thanks.”

BC: “It’s a great observation raised by one of my colleagues at LeedsLive, Joe Donnohue. It’s one of those stats which is hard to see with the naked eye when you’re watching a game, but does make for an interesting subplot to why this season has started badly. I don’t believe it’s the sole explanation behind the points dropped, but it’s interesting to note. I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained from drilling into it too far, especially when Leeds are still outrunning their opponents, just by a smaller margin.”

Big D: “It seems to me there was a lot of nonsense talked about qualifying for Europe this season. Our position last year flattered us and it was always going to be harder this year. The other teams know what to expect from us and have got better at dealing with it.

I wonder about the pre-season being “too difficult”. In fact this year the “first team” has only won one match (Crewe). It’s been a disaster. The confidence which comes from winning pre-season never accrued.

Now we are in big trouble. The next few matches are crucial. The game we play relies on us taking our chances and it seems we can miss from anywhere !!

Our lack of a truly creative midfielder is crucial. We should have held on to Pablo.

Do you think we are capable of scoring enough goals this year?

BC: “Based on what we have seen, there is enough there to feel confident the goals should come this season. While the points are not coming, the chances have been there in the matches. Finishing and that final ball has been off, but on the right day the goals should come and that should see Leeds pull clear in the long run.”

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