Dominic Matteo has told TalkSPORT that he believes Marcelo Bielsa made one enormous mistake ahead of Leeds United’s play-off semi-final second leg against Derby County on Wednesday night.
Leeds suffered a 4-3 defeat on aggregate despite taking a 1-0 advantage to Elland Road. But some woeful defending saw Derby Score four goals – cancelling out Stuart Dallas’ brace.
Bielsa opted to stick with Gaetano Berardi at centre-back alongside captain Liam Cooper after the first leg, despite Pontus Jansson returning to the bench after overcoming an injury.
Former Leeds star Matteo, renowned for his Champions League goal against AC Milan, has slammed Bielsa for opting to start Berardi instead of Jansson – who was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.
“Pontus Jansson should have played last night. I know Berardi started the first-leg, but Jansson has been one of the best centre-halves in the division all season,” Matteo said. “Just little decisions like that cost Leeds.
“I just think we generally lacked the experience, game management and leaders to get us over the line at the crucial time, and we didn’t turn up in the big games towards the end of the season.”
Matteo is bang on. Berardi was bullied by Mason Bennett throughout the second leg, and his frustration showed as he was eventually sent off for a second yellow card after lunging in on former Leeds man Bradley Johnson.
Choosing to leave Jansson on the bench was a catastrophic error. The Swede has shone under the Argentine’s guidance, and is arguably the best central defender in the division.