Marcelo Bielsa will have been left “seething” with himself after Leeds United suffered a shock defeat to Crawley Town.
That is the view of former Rangers and Scotland manager Alex McLeish who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, believes there is an emotional underbelly behind the cold and stern exterior of the Argentine coach after what he saw on the touchline on Sunday.
Bielsa opted to start a mix of first-team mainstays, squad players and youth prospects against the League Two outfit, although a number of players started out of position.
With the score 0-0 at halftime, Bielsa brought on under-23s pair Oliver Casey and Jack Jenkins – as well as Jack Harrison – for Liam Cooper, Pascal Struijk and Rodrigo Moreno.
Crawley went on to score twice in the opening eight minutes of the second half before 18-year-old Sam Greenwood came on to make his first-team debut for Leeds just before the hour mark.
The defeat means Leeds have never progressed past the third round of the FA Cup under Bielsa after losses to QPR and Arsenal in recent years.
McLeish has insisted Sunday’s defeat is a blot in the Leeds manager’s copybook and that he will not be happy with how his tactical decisions impacted the game.
Asked if Bielsa would regret his half-time substitutions, McLeish told Football Insider: “I would think so. Bielsa, it’s a black mark in his fantastic career, he will be disappointed with that one, that the younger players he threw into action didn’t quite handle it.
“You will always regret decisions when the game doesn’t work for you – you have to. We portray Bielsa as one of the greatest coaches in the world so, at some stage, he can’t just finish that game and say: ‘Well, I played the way that I always play and I’m not going to change that.’
“He will be, if I know coaches, I don’t know Bielsa personally, but if I know what goes through a coach’s head, losing a football match is one of the worst things that you can ever experience if your team is expected to win – especially if they’re expected to win.
“You can’t just dismiss it, one thing that coaches will do is go over it and say: ‘What did I do wrong, how could I have done differently? I know I made a lot of changes but we were still capable with the changes that I made to beat a team that are in League Two, the fourth tier.’
“It’s a wondrous result for Crawley but not a good result for Bielsa. I can only imagine he’s very, very hurt by that and I don’t think he is the type of guy who would say: ‘I don’t care because I was doing what I always do.’ No, he’s a coach.
“You see you see him fretting on the touchline, you can see that he’s anxious, you can see he’s anxious for the team to do well, I wouldn’t look at him and say he’s a dead nervous guy, he’s just like every other coach – totally involved in the game. He will be seething over why his team didn’t win that game.”