Stan Collymore has offered up perhaps the season’s first real knee-jerk reaction to Leeds United’s opening day defeat to Manchester United, suggesting that the club should look for a manager who ‘can offer more’.
The Whites suffered a 5-1 defeat at Old Trafford and the former Liverpool striker has stated he believes it is time Marcelo Bielsa stopped ‘making excuses’ and taught his side how to defend.
Collymore admits he’s a fan of the Whites attacking play but believes the defensive side to Bielsa’s game plan leaves much to be desired.
Writing in his column in the Mirror, Collymore said: “Another season and already another set of excuses for Leeds under their untouchable manager, Marcelo Bielsa.
“Yes, we know he got them promoted with players who weren’t anywhere near favourites to go up.
“Yes, we know several managers were inspired by his approach to fitness and being on the front foot as much as possible.
“And, yes, he’s eccentric.
“But he’s also on £8million a year and, for that, Leeds should be getting a manager whose side can attack and create but be pragmatic and defend when they need to as well.
“Certainly, they should be getting someone who can offer more after a 5-1 defeat than, ‘We were better than the corresponding fixture last year’.
“Because no, mate, you weren’t and, having lost that game 6-2, this result means you conceded 11 goals in those two games against your biggest rivals.”
He added: “Call me old-fashioned, but surely if you’re a fan of a club of Leeds’s size then you want to see some upwardly mobile Premier League progress and not excuses for getting hammered again, because where’s the progress in that?
“The problem is, too many have drunk the Cool Aid [sic] and bought into the notion that Bielsa is so far ahead of other coaches that mere mortals will never quite understand his genius.
“But genius is signing Eric Cantona.
“Genius is winning promotion and then winning the league or getting into Europe.
“Genius isn’t making excuses for a 5-1 drubbing.
“Look, I know it isn’t Bielsa himself saying he’s a genius but, if you get to 66 and you’re earning those sums, you have to have learned you can’t always be stuck on one approach.
“Leeds fans will rightly point to the second half of last season when they were more defensively solid.
“But it was a thing when I played and it’s a thing now that, on matchday one, you give yourself something to hold on to and, on Saturday, Leeds just didn’t do that.
“In the 1994-95 season, my Nottingham Forest side drew 1-1 with Manchester United in our second game after promotion, our first home game, with me and Andrei Kanchelskis on the scoresheet.
“They had Cantona, Roy Keane, Brian McClair, Ryan Giggs, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Peter Schmeichel and we came off thinking we could take on anyone after drawing with them.”
The Whites have been touted as one of the outsiders to sneak into Europe this season, but Collymore believes the result against the Red Devils will have impacted morale.
He said: “What were Leeds players thinking after Saturday? They should have gone home thinking they could have a crack at qualifying for the Europa League this season but that result will have left them thinking anything but.
“So even though I actually love the way the press and their high-intensity attack, I know that if you don’t address the defensive side then eventually someone at a club will say they need to find someone who will take them to the next level.
“Which means the fundamental question now at Elland Road has to be whether or not Bielsa is that man, or is there a manager who doesn’t sit on a box and who wants to live in a gated community rather than above a chiropractor’s who will give them a better chance?
“The way things look right now, the answer to that is, ‘Yes’.”
Since his arrival in 2018, Marcelo Bielsa has led Leeds United to the Championship title, secured their highest Premier League finish since 2002 and currently has the best points per game ratio of any permanent manager in the club’s history.
Given what the head coach has achieved during his three seasons in West Yorkshire, Collymore’s view that Bielsa is not the right man for the job is likely to fall on deaf ears among the Leeds United hierarchy and fan base.