Paul Merson has used his latest newspaper column to widely criticise Marcelo Bielsa, claiming Leeds United have ‘hit a brick wall’ under his management and that his ‘genius’ tag is vastly overstated.
The West Yorkshire outfit finally claimed a first Premier League win of the season at the seventh time of asking on Saturday. That’s after a goal from Diego Llorente was enough to see off Watford – though Bielsa claims the win was never in doubt.
And while it was Llorente who scored the winner, Leeds were once again indebted to an excellent attacking display from Raphinha.
He’s been their top man this season, scoring three and assisting three in an otherwise difficult start at Leeds.
One of the main factors behind their rise, however, has been enigmatic coach Bielsa. Rated by Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino as the best in the world, he has taken Leeds from 13th in the Championship to ninth in the Premier League.
Having played four of the top five in their first six games, however, Leeds have struggled, so far, to replicate last season’s form.
And sensing that opportunity, Merson has used his Daily Star column to launch an attack on the Leeds boss.
“I’ve never quite understood this ‘genius’ tag which some people attach to Marcelo Bielsa,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I do think he’s good and I totally respect the opinion of a top coach like Pep Guardiola who can’t praise the Leeds boss highly enough.
“But I just don’t get it. Just my opinion but a valid one nonetheless. I don’t buy into it.
“Leeds have hit a brick wall and he needs to change things around. The trouble is, I don’t think he’s got a change in him.
“Whatever the ‘B’ stands for in Plan B, it’s not Bielsa. He hasn’t got one.”
Bielsa and Leeds have ‘been found out’
Merson, meanwhile, also claims Leeds are easy to play against as opponents have ‘worked out their style’.
“His teams are full blast from the word go,” added the 53-year-old. “They are great to watch as a neutral but it’s predictable and now Premier League coaches are wise to it.
“Anyone surprised that Leeds have only won once this season, perhaps shouldn’t be. Teams are changing the way they play them.
“When they joined the top flight they were a breath of fresh air. You knew you were going to get a game and they had a superb first season back.
“But they haven’t kicked on and I just can’t see any way they are going to finish in the top six or eight.
“I like Bielsa, but if you ask me to say whether I thought he could ever go anywhere and win anything, the answer would have to be ‘no’.”
Despite that, Merson admits he can’t see Leeds going down.
“Leeds aren’t going to be anywhere near going down despite their poor start,” he added. “They will be okay.
“They’ve suffered with injuries which have contributed to a really poor start to the season. Their only win came against Watford and they’ve only drawn with the likes of Newcastle, Fulham (League Cup) and Burnley.
“So, is Bielsa a genius? Not, for me. Everyone sees things differently.”
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