Stuart Dallas could be exception to Marcelo Bielsa's comments on Leeds squad

Marcelo Bielsa manager of Leeds Utd during the Sky Bet Championship Play off Semi Final 1st leg match between Derby County and Leeds United at the Pride Park, Derby on Saturday 11th May...

Marcelo Bielsa suggested towards the end of the Championship season that he could get little more out of his Leeds United squad.

Marcelo Bielsa the head coach

One of Marcelo Bielsa's most interesting comments from his first season at Leeds was his suggestion in April that he would struggle to get anymore out of the squad that would ultimately come agonisingly close to securing promotion out of the Championship (via Yorkshire Evening Post).

Some perceived Bielsa's comments as a possible criticism or a message to the board about the upcoming summer window. But given that the Leeds boss has so often been the man to take the blame when the Whites have failed to win, it seems much more likely that he was trying to convey just how hard the squad had worked to get themselves into promotion contention.

Nevertheless, it is a statement that has stuck with many now that Leeds have to do what Bielsa suggested they may be unable to, and that is to make another promotion charge next season.

 

And given where Leeds finished the year before Bielsa took over, many fans probably do fear whether any of the players will be capable of reaching the same level next term.

Of course, some of the young players should surpass their levels from this past season. But perhaps there is also one first-team star who is ready to be the exception to Bielsa's comments.

Stuart Dallas has had his critics during his time at Elland Road. After proving to be a rare shining light during his first season at Leeds, he has struggled to hold down a place in the team and has slipped closer to the periphery of the squad.

22nd April 2019, Griffin Park, London, England; EFL Championship football, Brentford versus Leeds United; Julian Jeanvier of Brentford challenges Stuart Dallas of Leeds United

Bielsa clearly had a lot of faith in Dallas. But he tended to use the Northern Ireland international as a utility man. He played all over the pitch, predominantly at full-back but also in central midfield at one stage.

He goes into pre-season arguably not being considered first-choice in any role. But he also goes into pre-season off the back of surely his best performance in a Leeds shirt, as the Whites lost the second-leg of their play-off semi-final against Derby County at Elland Road.

The 28-year-old scored both of Leeds' goals on the night, including an outstanding second, and he seemed to be the one player the fans felt could hold his head high after the full-time whistle.

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Second Leg match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on May 15,...

And given that that performance was like almost nothing else the supporters saw from Dallas throughout the campaign - largely due to the fact that he was rarely able to enjoy a run of games in one position - perhaps there is every chance that he could be next season's surprise package for Leeds. 

If Bielsa can get more of those displays out of Dallas, he will quickly become a key player once again. And Leeds will definitely have at least one member of the existing squad who is ready to prove that there is a lot more to come from the current ranks than Bielsa perhaps expected. 

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