Chris Sutton has told BBC Radio 5 Live’s 606 on Sunday evening that he feels Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa disrespected the FA Cup by making numerous changes to his side that eventually lost to Crawley Town.
The Whites came into the match, desperate to rid themselves of an appalling record in the FA Cup in recent seasons. They have now lost four successive FA Cup third-round ties – three of which have come under Bielsa.
Bielsa made seven changes to his Leeds side, but still started the likes of Kiko Casilla, Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper, Gjanni Alioski, Pablo Hernandez, Helder Costa and Rodrigo. At half-time, though, he made some changes.
Removing Pascal Struijk and Cooper with the score at 0-0, the introduction of Jack Jenkins and Olly Casey coincided with a second-half capitulation. Sutton has blamed Bielsa’s selection, and said they missed Patrick Bamford.
“No Bamford, key player. If you want to go through, they should have played Bamford. At the end of the day, I understand that they want to stay in the division but Bielsa disrespected the cup – he made too many changes.”
TBR’s view – Did Bielsa disrespect the FA Cup?
In recent seasons, he has clearly not given the FA Cup the same level of importance as the league – but promotion was crucial. Leeds fans did not mind defeats to QPR or Arsenal, the latter of which was a good performance.
Against Crawley, Bielsa fielded a side that included numerous international players and on the face of it, it was a strong side. But the lack of Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich and Bamford hit Leeds hard.
Clearly, Bielsa does not think the FA Cup is on the same level as the Premier League. Did he disrespect it? His team selection was still good enough to beat a side like Crawley, but his substitutions on the other hand, were not.