Darren Fletcher has told BBC 2’s Match of the Day that Stuart Dallas is the “perfect” player for Marcelo Bielsa due to his ability to play in numerous positions – and offer quality in those areas, following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United.
Bielsa is renowned for his preference to play with more central defenders than an opposition side play with strikers. Sheffield United have been lauded for their use of two strikres, and that convinced Bielsa to use a three-man defence.
With Luke Ayling dropping into a three-man defence, Northern Ireland international Dallas moved into midfield alongside Kalvin Phillips. Helder Costa, Tyler Roberts, Mateusz Klich, Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford all sat ahead of him.
But the former Brentford man was everywhere, proving that he is capable of more than just his natural position of left-wing and newly-adapted positions of right-back, left-back and now central midfield. Fletcher stated that makes him ideal for Bielsa.
“He played like a normal midfielder, so credit to him to be that tactically versatile. It is perfect for Bielsa because not only does Bielsa do it before games, they’re changing throughout the game off the back of other teams changing formation.
“I can’t speak highly enough of his performances, underrated player throughout this league – but certainly not by Leeds fans,” Fletcher added.
TBR’s view – Is Dallas the most-improved Leeds player under Bielsa?
Prior to Bielsa’s arrival, £1.3million (Sky Sports) signing Dallas was a fringe player at Elland Road – offering versatility but far below the quality he is currently churning week in, week out.
Liam Cooper has come on leaps and bounds, Kalvin Phillips has become an England player, Patrick Bamford has scored three in three top-flight games, Jack Harrison is a crucial part of the side – despite failing at Middlesbrough before his move to Leeds.
But none of those players – though massively improving under Bielsa – can say they have improved in multiple positions. Not one, not two, not three, but four with Dallas – in right-back, left-back, left-wing and midfield. He is, as Fletcher says, “perfect”.