|Birmingham City 1 v 0 Leeds United|
Saturday, 6th April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Bamford the scapegoat for damaging defeat
Sunday, 7th Apr 2019 12:54 by Tim Whelan
After Leeds went down to Birmingham City in a vital game at St. Andrews, there has been some criticism of Bielsa’s tactics on the day, but many on social media have got the knives out for Patrick Bamford.
Marcello Bielsa went into the game determined to learn from the mistakes he thought he made when we suffered our first home defeat at the hands of the Blues earlier in the season. His thinking being that he always wants to outnumber the opposing forwards, so with Birmingham playing two up front he dropped Kalvin Phillips back as a third central defender.
But that seemed to reduce our usual fluency going forward, and after the game Bielsa had to admit “The performance of the team was not very positive.” And that with Birmingham playing very defensively for a home side the midfield was getting a little bit swamped and “The position of Klich didn’t help the team to create chances in attack.”
But we still managed 73 per cent possession overall, and Bielsa said that “The moments of the game that we were in control we couldn't take our chances. We had a lot of time on the ball but we didn't take advantage of the chances that we created.” Which brings us to Patrick Bamford, who had three very presentable chances during the game, and simple logic dictates that the result would have been very different had he taken at least two of them.
The first came from a cross that was a little ahead of him, but found him completely unmarked in front of goal. He would probably have scored had he dived forward and got his head on it, but opted to attempt a high kick. This meant it was always going to be difficult to control the direction of the ball, and it just bounced back from the inside of the post.
Leeds had had the better of the game up to this point, but 90 seconds later Birmingham had scored at the other end. That gave the home side a much needed lift and from that point it was much harder for Leeds, with Casilla having to make two good saves in the second half to keep us in contention.
Bamford wasted his second excellent chance after the interval when he put a shot over the bar from close range, though on this occasion he was under pressure from a defender diving in behind him. His third miss was more forgivable, as he got a glancing header on target, but Lee Camp had his positioning right and was able to turn it over the bar.
Inevitably Bamford was replaced by Roofe for the closing stages, and with Roofe getting back to full fitness you wonder if he will be selected for the starting line-up again. Even if Bielsa did restrict his post-match comment to "Bamford has a big character and personality and he was better than in the previous game." Which is a bit of a back-handed comment when he has now gone four games without a goal.
Leeds fans haven’t been quite so kind on Twitter, with some of the kindest comments being “Poor Patrick Bamford has looked like a broken man since the Reading game. Just won’t go in for him”, “Bamford couldn’t finish a senten...” and “Could cost us autos. Bamford could of and should of had 3”.
And one of the texts read out during the Radio Leeds commentary said “imagine where we’d be if we’d had a 22 goal striker”. That was probably a reference to Birmingham’s Che Adams, who has that many to his name already this season (including all three against us), which is impressive in a struggling side.
Adams was lively throughout the game, and could be a possible target if we decide we need a striker in the summer. In January the Blues said they would need a fee of £15m to part with the 22 year-old, but given their ongoing money troubles it might be worth asking if they would accept a lower bid. Otherwise, Leeds also have the option of using emerging talent Ryan Edmonson, who has been a prolific scorer for the under 23s and is powerfully built for a 17 year-old.
So can Bamford recover his form and prove that he still has a future at Leeds? We will have to hope that it’s just a confidence thing and it down to having to get back to full fitness after two injury lay-offs. We know he can do the business, as he produced an excellent finish to win the game at Bolton in December, but with six vital games to come it will be hard to keep on selecting him in the hope he will rediscover his touch.
We dropped back out of the automatic promotion places due to this result and Sheffield United’s win at Preston, so we will have to hope for more favourable results in midweek, when the two Yorkshire clubs swap opponents. Birmingham still need the points to stay out of trouble after their recent points deduction, so can the beloved Gary Monk produce the same tenacious performance against a club he didn’t use to manage?
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