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Bielsa concerns led to mid-season resurfacing of the Elland Road pitch
Sunday, 24th Jan 2021 17:27 by Tim Whelan

An article in The Athletic by Phil Hay has confirmed what many of us suspected after the defeat by Brighton and Hove Albion, that the powers that be at the club thought that the state of the surface at Elland Road was costing us points and that the issue needed to be rectified immediately.

The pitch has been in relatively poor condition for some years, and the club had planned to give it a complete makeover in the summer of 2020. But that wasn’t possible once the dreaded Covid had interrupted last season and led to a quick turnaround before the start of the current campaign, as the work couldn’t be carried out in the reduced timescale.

So the club had to soldier on with the same surface, and the effects have become increasingly clear in times of bad weather. Many of us have thought that the poor surface is not conducive to the slick passing game demanded by Bielsaball, as we first saw on a wet night in the autumn when we suffered a defeat by Leicester.

And matters came to a head in the last home game, after a week of severe weather in West Yorkshire. Although the Brighton match went ahead thanks to the famous Elland Road undersoil heating, the surface was never going to be improved by having a couple of feet of snow melting into it.

Our Argentinian supremo is never one for making excuses in public, but Hay understands that behind the scenes he made his views very clear to the powers that be at the club. And some of the players are also believed that the state of the pitch helped to knock them off their stride, with Rodrigo and Raphinia looking particularly tetchy on the night.

A short-term fix was clearly needed, and result was our first signing of the transfer window, paying £300,000 for a fresh top layer of grass that was being grown for Tottenham Hotspur, but which Spurs don’t currently need. One comment in a Leeds group on Facebook was that Leeds have yet to win on a London pitch since Bielsa took charge, so we’re going to great lengths to try to break that duck by the end of the season!

The new pitch will make it’s debut against Everton a week today, with the two week gap between home games giving us the opportunity to get the work done. The longer term plan is that the full makeover of the playing surface is now scheduled for this coming summer, so let’s hope that this current season can finish on time and that Leeds can delight the world with our fluent football in 2021/22.

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