Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa praises ‘big influence’ Jack Harrison

Mark Walker, PA
·3-min read

Marcelo Bielsa acknowledged Jack Harrison’s return to form in Leeds’ 2-1 home win against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United.

Harrison opened the scoring for Bielsa’s side and provided the cross which Blades defender Phil Jagielka diverted into his own net after Ben Osborn had equalised for the visitors just before the interval.

In a post-match interview, Harrison credited a sports psychologist for helping him following a recent dip in form and Bielsa was grateful for the winger’s resurgence.

“In the last two games he has had a bigger increase in his performance,” Bielsa said. “He had a lot of influence, he was decisive and in the game against Fulham also.

“He’s a player who, when he manages to play at his best version, he has a big influence on our offensive game.”

Harrison’s early close-range finish was his seventh Premier League goal of the season, while he has now registered five assists.

His figures place him above the likes of England pair Mason Mount and Phil Foden in the Premier League’s goals and assists chart, but below Leeds team-mates Raphinha and Patrick Bamford.

Bielsa said his 14-goal leading scorer Bamford had been withdrawn in the 65th minute as a precaution following the striker’s recent recovery from a hip injury.

“After the game against Fulham where he made a big effort, given that he played with difficulties below his optimal level, he needed a week to recover from that,” Bielsa said.

“And the following week his load had progressively increased and it was expected that he wouldn’t have been able to play the full 90 minutes given the continued efforts he usually has. Either way the minutes he did play he was dangerous as usual.”

While Leeds notched their 13th league win of the season, the Blades have now lost 24 of their 30 top-flight matches and are 14 points from safety with eight remaining.

Caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom, making his first return to Elland Road since he was sacked as Leeds manager in 2018, has lost all three of his games in charge of the Blades.

Heckingbottom’s brief is to prepare the squad for next season, but he was dealt a double blow with George Baldock and Jayden Bogle both facing a spell on the sidelines after being forced off due to head injuries.

“We could sit here and moan but it is another problem for us, we know that,” Heckingbottom said.

“But it will be another opportunity for somebody else and that is what we have to do.

“We want to start having players back. I would love to have every player fully fit and have the difficult choices of picking an 11, but at least then we can chop and change and keep people hungry and have more competition for places.

“At the minute we haven’t got that and today we had to shuffle the pack twice. That happens and we will have to get on with it.”