Tuesday 10 December 2019

Bielsa hell as Stoke choke Leeds

ON TARGET: Sam Clucas. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
ON TARGET: Sam Clucas. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Nathan Jones suggested Marcelo Bielsa's open and honest press briefing backfired as Stoke ended their long wait for a win and dented Leeds' promotion chances.

Bielsa addressed the media on Wednesday in an attempt to quell the uproar over him spying on opposition teams.

During a session that lasted over an hour, the United coach revealed he had studied every game Luton had played this season before Jones left to take up his new role at Stoke.

Instead of sticking with his tried-and-tested tactics, the Welshman threw Bielsa a curve ball by changing his formation to 3-5-2 and his gamble paid off as second-half goals from Sam Clucas and Joe Allen earned Stoke their first victory since December 22.

"It's been well publicised Marcelo watched 26 Luton games and two Stoke games, so he's well drilled on what our usual formation is," said Jones.

"So we thought we may have to give him a surprise because, if he's that well drilled on us, they've had plenty of time to work on it, so it'd be a difficult afternoon.

"We felt with the threats they've got and to give us the best chance to win the match we needed to be tactically right at it and I thought we were."

Jones suffered a nightmare start to his reign as a big defeat at Brentford last weekend was followed by a shock home loss to Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.

But he got off the mark in style by taking the scalp of the Sky Bet Championship leaders.

"The contrast in a week is very, very big," said Jones. ''It's nice to get off the mark because I've never lost three games in a row as a manager."

It was a miserable day for Leeds, despite Ezgjan Alioski scoring with the last kick.

They had centre-back Pontus Jansson sent off late on after receiving a second yellow card and their position at the top of the table is under real threat.

"It was a game that we could have won," said Bielsa.

"We had the ball and arrived easily to the last part of the pitch.

''In spite of this, we simply couldn't arrive in the box enough."

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