Andy Couzens has been reflecting on the concept that Marcelo Bielsa’s teams throughout the years have suffered from ‘burnout’ thanks to his high-intensity coaching methods, with Leeds United the latest to be cited.
Last season saw Leeds break away from the chasing pack to consolidate their place in the Championship automatic promotion places, only to be pipped with three games to go by Sheffield United, to then crash out of the play-offs to Derby County in calamitous circumstances.
The start of the 2019/20 season saw fresh optimism from the Elland Road faithful that they would come back stronger, and this looked to be the case all the way up until the 60th-minute against Cardiff City on the 14th December when the Bluebirds staged a miraculous comeback and sparked a tremendous dip in form for the Whites.
Since then, only two wins in 10 games have followed and seen Leeds’ lead in the top two cut down to goal difference from a whopping 11 points.
The question has been constantly asked of Marcelo Bielsa on whether his methods cause the players to tire in the second half of the season, with the spotlight directly on his side at the moment after their recent capitulation.
They remain in the top two, but only marginally over Scott Parker’s growing Fulham side.
Couzens commented on the concept of burnout but doesn’t believe that his current side is suffering from it, alluding to recent effort levels from the team and players in particular.
“No, I don’t think it’s a problem. If you look at the performance on Tuesday night, they didn’t look like that on Tuesday,” the ex-Leeds midfielder stated to Football League World’s Chief Editor Sam Rourke.
“Forest away and Wigan at home, we missed a massive player, and when we played Brentford I think it showed who that is: Kalvin Phillips.”
Couzens went on to detail what Bielsa and his side missed while their talisman was missing with a three-match suspension.
He added: “We miss that energy and that drive from him; breaking things up in the middle of the park and also creating things going forwards. That’s the main reason why we’ve been on a little bit of a slump.”
With last year’s horrific memories still etched into the minds of Leeds fans, including Couzens, he believes that the Argentine has been more pragmatic in his approach to the long Championship campaign this season.
He finished by stating: “I don’t see that (burnout) as an issue. The lads will have to be rested up and I think Bielsa has learnt his lesson. They’re getting rest days that they might not have had last year.
“If you look at Klich, he’s played every single game under Bielsa, games for his National side, and he still looks as fit as ever.”