Marcelo Bielsa has explained the absences of both Kalvin Phillips and Junior Firpo for the season opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
A number of Whites supporters were surprised when the starting XI for the match was released with the omission of the club’s new left-back proving to be particularly perplexing.
A central midfield pairing of Robin Koch and Mateusz Klich was largely expected due to Phillips’ lack of a meaningful pre season, something Bielsa stressed in the build up to the match.
He also explained that there had been a setback in Firpo’s preparations for the match, forcing the ever-reliable Stuart Dallas into the left-back position.
“Phillips has done half the work of his team-mates,” Bielsa said. “And with Junior we had to diversify his preparation and it was also interrupted for a few days and this is why there has been a set back with him.”
It is the first time Leeds return to Old Trafford after their 6-2 humbling at the ground last season but, as most supporters already have, Bielsa maintained that his side must completely forget about what happened previously.
When asked if the loss is still on the players’ minds, he said: “I don’t think we have it in our minds today. We shouldn’t. We had the opportunity to show we have overcome that difference last time.”
That kind of mentality is exactly what has served the Whites so well under Bielsa’s stewardship as he also made the point that this season is all about improving on last term.
He said: “The goal is to play better than we did last season and to go into every game with a chance of attempting to win.”