Leeds United: Phil Hay concerned about one part of Marcelo Bielsa's starting XI

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds United managed to bounce back from a run of three consecutive Premier League defeats on Tuesday night by beating strugglers Newcastle at St. James' Park. 

The Whites took just 17 minutes to open the scoring when Rodrigo assisted fellow summer signing Raphinha, while Jack Harrison netted a winner late on to cancel out Miguel Almiron's equaliser. 

The result left Leeds in midtable, some 14 points clear of the relegation zone, during a season in which their unique style of play under Marcelo Bielsa has been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League. 

However, renowned journalist Phil Hay, who covers Leeds for The Athletic having built his reputation at the Yorkshire Evening Post, still has a bone to pick with one part of Bielsa's starting XI. 

Speaking in The Athletic's match discussion thread, he expressed doubts over the engine room's ability to cope with pressure when Bielsa selects a midfield trio involving Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo and Mateusz Klich or Stuart Dallas. 

He said; "I've never been convinced that when the pressure's on, a triangle of Phillips, Klich/Dallas and Rodrigo has enough in it to cope. That's when you feel like they're outnumbered. On the ball and in dominant spells it's totally different but they can lose control there."

Nonetheless, such a setup has been a common trope of Leeds' season.

From the 11 games Rodrigo has started, during ten of them he's been part of a midfield three, and in all but two of those he's played alongside Phillips and Klich or Dallas - the exceptions being when Pascal Struijk has been called upon due to injury. 

Bielsa has also set up his side using the Rodrigo, Phillips and Klich or Dallas combination in seven of Leeds' last nine Premier League games, including against the Magpies. 

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Make no mistake about it, Rodrigo is the problem element here. 

That's no disrespect to the Spaniard, who has chipped in with three goals and one assist this season and has overall been a successful signing for the Elland Road outfit. 

The only problem is that he's not really a midfielder at all. Transfermarkt haven't recorded a single midfield appearance for Valencia, a club where Rodrigo made over 200 appearances.

Bielsa's decision to play him deeper obviously fits into the idiosyncrasies of the Argentine's playing philosophy, but by the same token it inevitably causes an imbalance in midfield. 

If the threat of relegation were more imminent right now perhaps Bielsa would opt for a midfield that's a little more sturdy when his side lose the ball.

But considering Leeds' game-plan has worked more often than not this season, a change in thinking seems unlikely. 

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