Leeds United take on Reading at the weekend and Marcelo Bielsa spoke to the press today ahead of the Championship clash.
He covered a variety of topics, including the squad, Kiko Casilla’s FA hearing and Kalvin Phillips’ return from suspension. The Argentine also spoke about fan favourite Pablo Hernandez.
The former Spanish international has been one of Leeds’ key players ever since his former Swansea City boss Garry Monk brought him to Elland Road from Qatari football.
Hernandez has, however, struggled to find his imperious best form for Leeds this season. He has just four goals and four assists this term, compared to the 12 apiece he managed in 2018-19.
Bielsa, however, does not believe that Hernandez’s season can only be defined by his statistics. He also made it clear, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, that he prefers to play the Spanish veteran in the centre of the pitch, rather than out wide.
“There are different ways of measuring the level of one player, you can say how many goals he scored, how many final passes he gave, how many matches he played, in this sense maybe he has not the same level but the impact he has in the team is high. When he plays well the team plays well, and when he is in a good level and fitness level the team plays well as well…
…I prefer him to play as playmaker than right-winger. I think that the demand to play on the right is different to when you play in the middle. And today Pablo he has more impact as playmaker than as a winger.”
There is no doubt that Hernandez is one of Leeds’ most talented players. It is also clear that he has not been at the level previously expected of him at Elland Road.
It is, of course, important to remember that Hernandez is now 34-years-old, and over time it will become clear that the cult hero might not be able to perform at the same level as he was, say, 18 months ago.
But if he can help Leeds win promotion this season he will undoubtedly seal his place as something of a modern-day Leeds icon and one of the best to play in the Championship.