'People have short memories' - Leeds Aussie legend Dorigo takes swipe at Bielsa bashers


Leeds United’s Aussie great Tony Dorigo has sprinkled some perspective over rumblings of discontent from a minority of fans over the gangbusters style of quirky coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Dissenting voices surfaced on social media after last weekend’s 6-2 thumping at Manchester United, as the Whites refused to temper their buccaneering ways despite being surgically dismembered by superior opponents.

But Adelaide-raised Dorigo - who made over 170 appearances for Leeds during a six-year love affair with the club in the 1990s - has no time for Bielsa bashing heading into tonight’s clash at Elland Road against lowly Burnley.

The visitors are four points adrift of 15th placed Leeds - but light-years away in terms of philosophy and tactical approach under the pragmatic leadership of Sean Dyche.

“Some people have short memories - two years ago we were mid-table in the Championship and going absolutely nowhere,” said the former Whites left-back.

“Bielsa has turned those same players into Premier League players.

“He’s crafted a team which had no idea or identity into one which knows exactly how they want to play and they play some breathtaking stuff.

“They’ve come a heck of a long way and can now take it to the big boys.

“The boldness of the manager is to be applauded.

“The style is different and we all have to get used to the positives and negatives of that.”

Defending - especially at set-pieces - has been an Achilles heel in Leeds’ first taste of top-flight football in 17 years, with their 30 goals conceded the worst tally in the EPL.

Conversely, they’re the division’s sixth-highest scorers with 24.

“I tell you what, you ask Burnley or Newcastle fans which type of style they’d rather watch each week and I’m sure it would be Leeds United,” Dorigo added.

“We’re going great guns and will be absolutely fine this season - everybody just needs to take a minute to think about where we’ve come from and what we’re doing at the moment.

“What’s been a bit surprising is that considering we’ve been out of the Premier League for so long to hear one or two dissenting voices. I find that quite remarkable.

“Another thing that’s not normal to me is the new-found popularity of the club amongst fans from elsewhere.

“We’re used to being ‘hated’ by other people but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

“Our fans can’t cope with it - people from the outside actually liking the club.”

Now a TV pundit who is at almost every Leeds game, Dorigo puts the transformation purely down to the mercurial Bielsa.

And the Argentine won’t be for turning, he says.

“He has his philosophy and he has huge belief in what he’s doing. He won’t be changing the way he does things,” added Dorigo.

“His players have bought into everything as they travel with him on this football journey.

“It’s hard work, it’s different but they’re loving it. We should all be appreciative of where we’ve got to.”

Dorigo - who won 12 caps for his adopted England - views blowout scores against elite teams as an occasionally inevitable outcome of the attacking ethos Bielsa has drilled into a team comprised of willing adherents rather than blessed with individual brilliance.

“The game against United was set up for us to be done on the counter,” he said.

“You look at the games we’ve lost ... Wolves and West Ham stayed deep and broke on us, it’s just the way we play.

“I knew we’d be in trouble against United but I also have admiration for the fact that even at 5-1 down there’s no thought of damage limitation and parking the bus, we’re still going at them.

“The attitude is amazing - in boxing parlance you’ve got one guy getting pummelled but he keeps getting up again.

“We don’t know when to give up - in my view, Leeds has been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League.=

“When we’re playing something always happens and there are plenty of goals.

“Against the top sides, we need to be very good at what we do - if not that’s when we get punished.”

Dorigo sees method to Bielsa’s “supposed madness”, agreeing that attack is ultimately the best form of defence.

“You have to do it well of course and not cough up possession,” he stipules.

What concerns him more is getting caught out at set-plays.

“That’s a problem - but that’s got nothing to do with our style and that’s what I think some people get confused about,” he explained.

“Set pieces are set pieces, whether you play an expansive game of not.

“Our next two games are important against teams below us in Burnley and West Brom.

“If we get two good results there then I think things will look very different.

“Getting points against these types of teams is hugely important.”