Marcelo Bielsa believes commercial aspects in football override player welfare

Marcelo Bielsa File Photo
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa believes player workload is “a second thought” when decisions are taken over the scheduling of matches.

The Argentinian said the tight turnaround between Wednesday’s 3-3 draw away to Aston Villa and Saturday’s match at Everton meant his players could not recover properly.

Following the trip to Goodison Park the Whites also face a difficult run of three games in six days against Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham which could have a big bearing on whether Leeds – currently 15th – pull clear of trouble or are sucked into a relegation scrap.

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“There’s no time for preparation because there also isn’t time for adequate recovery. The games are scheduled clearly ignoring that aspect,” Bielsa said on Friday.

“The commercial aspects and the commitments due to the sales of the games make the decisions exclusively dependent on that. All of the aspects that make a competition fair for all those in it are not there in my opinion. Teams are facing each other in different conditions.

“The games are planned without the possibility of rest and ignoring the potential injuries, but that’s the same for everybody.

“There are aspects that increase the difficulty and complexity, and there are also aspects which can be resolved in a better way than the one chosen.

“But the compromises that should be made for the spectacle of the game, and for the fairness of the competition, are a second thought.”

Asked what he thought the solution might be, Bielsa said: “You guys (the media) know better than us what the best solution is – to play less and to admit that to play less means less revenue.

“The less revenue there is means we’re all going to have to earn less.

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“All these games are being played on top of each other – Chelsea are playing in one competition (the Club World Cup), the Africa Cup of Nations – taking away the nature of all the competitions, all the competitions are worse because of it.

“And of course the English league suffers those consequences more than any because it’s the best organised and the one with the best players.”

Leeds have suffered more than most with injuries this season and head to Merseyside still without Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Junior Firpo – all still recovering from hamstring injuries – and Patrick Bamford (foot).

England midfielder Phillips is expected to return in the first few days of March, Bielsa said, while he anticipates defender Firpo might be back in action next week.

Frank Lampard is seeking to lift Everton clear of danger

Frank Lampard is seeking to lift Everton clear of danger (Peter Byrne/PA)

The match at Goodison Park brings Bielsa together again with Frank Lampard, just over three years on from a member of the Argentinian’s staff being caught trying to observe one of the English boss’ training sessions at Derby in what became known as the ‘Spygate’ row.

Saturday’s game will be Lampard’s third in charge of his new club Everton, and asked if that made it difficult to have a clear picture of what to expect, Bielsa said: “I can’t give an opinion on the development of the team but the longer they spend with their new manager, the better the ideas will be implemented.”

Leeds head into the contest having secured a battling draw at Villa Park last time out, having beaten West Ham 3-2 in their previous away outing before that.

“Seasons like the one we are going through where there is constant adversity, it’s important to face it with a strong mental fortitude,” Bielsa said.

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