Leeds United’s win over Aston Villa last night was all the more impressive when considering the reshuffling to the pack manager Marcelo Bielsa had to implement.
Firstly, he was without Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper for the game. That meant moving Pascal Struijk into midfield, Luke Ayling to Centre-back and switching Stuart Dallas to right-back to allow for Gjanni Alioski on the left.
Then, he had to move things around again.
Struijk picked up a yellow card early on after a clumsy foul on Jack Grealish and a subsequent challenge on Douglas Luiz was certainly borderline regarding a potential second yellow card.
Bielsa took the bold decision to sub the defensive midfielder off and one former Leeds United striker seemed to suggest that was a brave decision from the Argentine.
“He gets a yellow card here for this tackle but then shortly after he makes another free kick,” Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink told Premier League Productions (24/10/2020). “I think that is what has triggered it for Marcelo Bielsa.
“A lot of managers would have waited (until) half-time but Bielsa was not afraid to make the decision and took him off after 20 minutes.”
Struijk was playing in a role where breaking up the play was integral to his game and on a yellow card he simply could not effectively implement his playing style.
On top of that, with the likes of Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley floating around his vicinity, the chance of picking up a second yellow was high.
Therefore, Bielsa took matters into his own hands and it appears to have been the right decision.
Struijk will undoubtedly understand it was not a slight on his display, but the best move tactically and, in the end, the results certainly justified the means.