Leeds suffered their first league defeat of the season last weekend as ex-manager Garry Monk led his Birmingham side to a 2-1 victory at Elland Road.
It was far from disastrous, with Leeds playing satisfactory on the day, but it was a loss nevertheless and the question now is how Bielsa’s men respond to this setback.
Often, football is a game of clichés. A lot of the words and phrases commentators, pundits and fans use when talking about football would not make sense in a non-sport setting. One of the most common clichés is ‘bouncebackability’. It may not be in the Oxford Dictionary and would certainly lose you marks if you used that word in a formal piece of writing such as an exam, but it is a word generally accepted in the footballing world to mean: can said team recover from a big loss?
This is often where titles or trophies are won and lost. The mark of all good sides in any league in the world is the attribute to mentally put setbacks aside and move on. Think of Manchester City last season: you could argue that they play better after a loss or draw, going on big runs.
If Leeds are serious about promotion, this is a crucial thing they must do. Having the talent on the pitch is one thing, but it doesn’t win you titles or promotions. Team spirit, mental grit, bouncebackability – the mental aspect is just as vital as the talented pool of players at Bielsa’s disposal.
Next up for Leeds is a tough trip to Sheffield on Friday night where they will face Jos Luhukay’s Sheffield Wednesday side who will be well up for the Yorkshire derby on the back of a win at Villa Park last time out. Should Leeds win, it will send a serious message to the rest of the division that they are true candidates for promotion. On the other hand, a loss would send out signals that they can be broken and do have weaknesses.
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