It seems lessons were very definitely learned after Leeds United’s unbeaten start in the Sky Bet Championship was surrendered in a messy game against Birmingham City at Elland Road.
Marcelo Bielsa took the unusual step of blaming himself, admitting he had made a tactical error that the team paid a “high price” for as they made a slow start. As a result the Whites found themselves two goals down before going on to dominate the final hour and then being frustrated by poor final passes and finishing.
Results elsewhere meant that Leeds held onto top spot, but they were nowhere near the standards they had set just a few days earlier with a brilliant dismantling of Preston.
Bielsa criticised his own decision to field a four-man defence rather than a back three. He altered the system when substituting holding midfielder Kalvin Phillips in the 34th minute, but then saw his side out of luck in the final third of the pitch as a solitary late goal by Ezgjan Alioski was all they had to show for their efforts on a frustrating afternoon.
“The proposal I chose for this game was not the right one,” said Bielsa.
“Kalvin Phillips had to assume the consequences but I made a mistake. In the last hour of the game we dominated the opponent and we created chances to score.
“To make conclusions about this loss, I would take into account the mistake I made at the beginning. Because when I corrected the mistake, the rival had already scored two goals. Our team was less confident. It’s a high price to pay for a tactical mistake.
“We couldn’t make the link between attack and defence because Phillips didn’t receive the ball. So I decided (Stuart) Dallas would play in the role of (Luke) Ayling and Ayling would play in the defensive line of three. It gave a good balance to the team.”
Leeds now turn their attentions to a Yorkshire derby when they are away to Sheffield Wednesday this Friday.
They could have defender Gaetano Berardi back while striker Kemar Roofe is expected to be available again after injury next week to give Bielsa a selection headache after Pontus Jansson and Tyler Roberts have come in and played well.
Bielsa, meanwhile, is not expecting his side to collapse as they did after a similarly bright start last season.
He added: “It’s very difficult to make any comparison because I was not here last year. But I know what happened last year.
“I don’t think it’s good to compare both situations. The good idea is to resolve this situation right now.
“We always try to be consciously optimistic and we have solid arguments to build optimism. We’ll have to show that on Friday.
“You don’t react in the same way after a win than after a loss. After the game we lost, we asked some questions together. We built our conclusions together.”