Marcelo Bielsa has accepted that Stuart Dallas has yet to hit the heights of last season, but knows the midfielder will return to the levels he showed in Leeds’s debut Premier League campaign.
Generally Leeds have not replicated the form that helped them to a mid-table finish last season in the top flight. And in particular Dallas, 30, has not been the all-action player he was a year ago.
Dallas was named player of the year, players’ player of the year and also won the club’s goal of the season award for his late effort in the Premier League win at Manchester City in April.
It was a blistering season for the Northern Ireland international, but this time around he has been a shadow of himself.
“His performances have not been at the same level as last year, I think you know this when you ask me about it,” Bielsa said.
“There are reasons to understand why it is that way and every game he plays a little bit better than the previous one.
“But I have every confidence that next Saturday, or the following Saturday, or in a short space of time, he’s going to come back to his high level. It’s not that I have confidence, I am sure of it.”
With just three points taken from their opening five matches, Leeds are still awaiting their first Premier League win.
Bielsa said: “Our project to play is the same as last year and I don’t see the opponent has any different antidotes to those used last season.
“But now that we’re not able to win means that our game needs to evolve, evolving in the sense that we need to make better what we want to do.”
Subscribe for free to TEAMtalk’s daily newsletter…
Bielsa has no time for second-season syndrome
The Leeds boss refused to acknowledge second-season syndrome, but agreed they need to become more efficient in both penalty areas.
“I never imagine anything easy,” he added. “The two things you make reference to have a margin for correction.
“Even when we receive few goals, we receive more chances than we should and in the games we’ve not only had problems with efficiency, but also to elaborate more chances that create danger. So we have a margin for correction in both aspects.”
Leeds will be aiming to kickstart their season against West Ham at Elland Road on Saturday. However, Bielsa has a number of injuries to contend with.
Raphinha (hip), Luke Ayling (knee) and Jack Harrison (Covid) are doubtful. Patrick Bamford has not recovered from an ankle injury which ruled him out of the midweek trip to Fulham.
Pascal Struijk serves the final game of his three-match ban. And Diego Llorente (muscle strain) and Robin Koch (pubis) are both still sidelined.
READ MORE: Shock report names reason Bielsa could go, as Barcelona eye Leeds boss