Bielsa's Leeds United face toughest task yet in Lions' Den

After a week off it is back to action with a bang for Leeds United with six games in 22 days in the next block of matches before the second international break.

Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 4:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 6:12 pm
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, set for his first Millwall experience.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, set for his first Millwall experience.

The first block was certainly successful with new head coach Marcelo Bielsa winning the Sky Bet Championship manager of the month award and striker Kemar Roofe the player of the month.

Sitting on top of the table after six unbeaten league matches and with just one defeat so far when a team full of fringe players lost to Preston in the Carabao Cup it has been a flying start dreamed of by supporters.

But as Bielsa has pointed out, no-one has won anything yet and there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge before the early success can be turned into anything real.

Another big test to negotiate next awaits the 2018 Leeds model when they face a trip to Millwall’s New Den where they have never felt welcome nor met with much success. A record of eight defeats in their last nine away games to Millwall tells its own story of failure in this part of London with United’s only success in the last 10 years coming with a 1-0 success in March, 2012.

Since then they have not even managed a goal in four visits so the size of the task is clear with the Lions always seemingly able to raise their game when they face the Whites of Yorkshire.

The chasing United got at the hands of Millwall this time last year left a few scars that were never fully healed in Thomas Christiansen’s time as head coach at Elland Road after his team had gone to the New Den on the back of a similar great start to the season. Bielsa is therefore warned, but Leeds fans have faith that with their latest man in charge history will not be allowed to repeat itself.

The head coach will be hoping all his players came through their international exertions in the last week, but he knows he is without one player with striker Patrick Bamford ruled out of action up to four months with a knee injury.

Bamford joined the Whites from Middlesbrough for £7m during the summer transfer window and although mainly used so far as a substitute he was expected to be a key figure this season.

Whether he will be able to make his expected impact now time will tell and his absence leaves Leeds with just Kemar Roofe as a proven player to lead the line having let Caleb Ekuban go out on loan for the season.

The only other centre-forward options at the club would appear to be 19-year-old Tyler Roberts, who has been used as a wide man so far by Bielsa, and 17-year-old Ryan Edmondson, who played a Championship game last term.

United’s director of football Victor Orta said: “This is clearly disappointing news for Patrick and for everyone at Leeds United.

“Patrick has settled in well, quickly becoming an important player for Marcelo Bielsa and a popular part of the group.

“We have an excellent medical team at the club and Patrick is in the best possible hands, he will be back available to us during an important part of the season and he will still play a key role in our campaign.”