Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa accuses Michail Antonio of fouling defenders and not being punished for it
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa, in his recent press conference, stated that dealing with physical strikers like West Ham United’s Michail Antonio is even harder because referees do not allow defenders to compete on equal terms.
Ahead of their encounter against West Ham, Marcelo Bielsa said:
“When a striker makes a movement moving a defender away normally it is not a foul but when a defender moves a striker away using their arms, it is a foul.”
Michail Antonio scored the 90th-minute winner when West Ham met Leeds United at Elland Road in September. When asked about how he’s planning to tackle with the 31-year old striker, Bielsa replied:
“We have to see how the rules interpret the situations that happen.
“I’m not saying it is bad or good, I am saying this is what happens.
“In the game against Burnley there were also a lot of actions of that type.
“We have to learn to adapt to a reality you can see clearly.
“At set-pieces, for example, when an opponent obstructs the movement of a defender to lose their marker, there’s an infinite amount of those actions not sanctioned but if that same thing happens outside of the box, it is normally a foul.
“The same thing happens when you put yourself in the way of the goalkeeper. When an opponent is positioned where he is going to get himself in his path, intentionally, that’s how obstruction is described but the goalkeepers suffer this constantly and they never blow for this.
“So I think you have to adapt and understand the criteria. VAR (the video assistant referee system) has the possibility to verify all of this.”
Injury issues continue to hurt Leeds United
The start of the 2021/22 season has been difficult going for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds. Constant injuries have decimated the squad, including time out for key players such as Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.
Leeds United are currently languishing in 16th place, eight points ahead of the relegation spots as they look to secure a third successive season of top-flight football.
Despite the situation at times seeming untenable, injuries have allowed Marcelo Bielsa to promote younger players into his squad. The likes of Sam Greenwood, Crysencio Summerville and Charlie Cresswell have all made their debuts this season.
But it is two of his younger talents in Tyler Roberts and Joe Gelhardt who have given Marcelo Bielsa, as well as Leeds fans, hope for the future in both the short and long term.