Marcelo Bielsa won’t bow to public opinion with Leeds United ‘pity minutes’ for Joe Gelhardt & co

  • by

Pity minutes will not be gifting Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood or Cody Drameh Premier League match time with Leeds United any time soon.

For the duration of Marcelo Bielsa’s tenure, eyes have been on the talented youngsters playing with the under-23s at Thorp Arch and when they may be blooded.

Despite deploying a small senior squad at Elland Road, Bielsa has never bowed to public opinion when it has come to playing youths en masse in his sides.

There have been many debuts and many priceless experiences for youngsters coming out of the academy, but they’ve only come with injury crises or cup contests.

Video Loading

Charlie Cresswell and Crysencio Summerville are the latest league debutants Bielsa has overseen, while Stuart McKinstry and Gelhardt finally saw first-team action last week, but in the Carabao Cup.

For all of the hype around whoever the next big thing might be, debuts are earned under Bielsa and as Bryce Hosannah can attest, nothing is done with sentimentality.

The 22-year-old, now with National League Wrexham after a deadline day switch last month, never made a competitive appearance with Leeds.

He came close on a few occasions with inclusions on the substitutes’ bench, but it never quite happened for the right-back, despite some very impressive spells with the under-23s.

Speaking to LeedsLive in the aftermath of his move to Wales, Hosannah feels the current tranche of under-23s have a very good chance of game time this season, but nobody should expect Bielsa to play youths solely because it makes him look generous and the player gets a short-term high.

“I look at some of the 23s now who are there and some of them have a really good chance of getting some real game time this year,” he said.

“One thing the gaffer there has proved is he’s not going to just give games for the sake of giving games.

Read More
Read More

“If he’s going to play someone it’s because he thinks they’re going to improve the team or because someone’s out injured and he thinks they’re the best option.

“What I learnt is you don’t really get, there’s a phrase called pity minutes, where because you’ve been close to it for so long you’re rewarded with minutes.

“You have to earn those minutes. There are some players this season who have got a good chance.”

Hosannah arrived at Leeds in 2017 when Victor Orta, who first showed interest in the right-back when he was overseeing recruitment at Middlesbrough, scooped him up from the claws of FC Twente.

Bryce Hosannah did not play for the first team
(Image: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

While he saw little momentum under Thomas Christiansen, Hosannah said it was Paul Heckingbottom who first brought him into the senior fold in training, taking him along on the controversial tour to Myanmar in 2018.

Hosannah cemented himself as the club’s premier right-back outside the first team with his blistering performances under Carlos Corberan in the under-23s.

Under Bielsa, Hosannah was one of those to benefit from the tight synergy the head coach likes to see between the first team and under-23s in training.

“For playing, as young players, it was really good to have that exposure on the day to day because there’s not really a 23s in terms of the training because the 23s and the first team are so small, they train together,” he said.

Read More
Read More

“As young players it is good to get that, but it is different and I know at a lot of other clubs the 23s are a lot further away than here where they work together on a day to day basis.”

As with hundreds, if not thousands, of footballers before him, Hosannah credits Bielsa with transforming his game, despite the absence of any competitive senior action.

There is one tenet of Bielsa’s philosophy above all others which stayed with the right-back. It’s an approach which underlines how the Argentine may look to get Leeds out of their current plight.

“It was the way he explained football in the team meetings,” he said. “The main example I would use is the emphasis he put on running.

“He said in football everyone has different abilities, but the one ability everyone has is the ability to run, so you can always overcome an opponent.

“It’s a lot harder to overcome the opponent by dribbling than it is by running, so he said everyone can run.

“That’s something that’s true and it’s something I have taken into my game now, which is why you should always try to run harder than the person you’re up against.”

Read More
Read More