Ex-Middlesbrough boss reveals how he tried to stop Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United team

Former Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis has opened up on how he tried to stop Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side last season.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 11:04 pm
Updated Friday, 4th October 2019, 2:12 pm
Tony Pulis left Middlesbrough at the end of last season after 18 months at the club.
Tony Pulis left Middlesbrough at the end of last season after 18 months at the club.

Pulis’ Boro recorded two draws against the Whites following a goalless stalemate at Elland Road in August and a 1-1 draw at the Riverside in February.

In both games Pulis attempted to thwart Leeds’ threat from wide areas, particularly on the right when the ball was switched to Jack Harrison.

When asked about Leeds while appearing as a pundit on Sky Sports, Pulis admitted: "I never change very much for what I do against teams but we changed against them.

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“What I didn't want to do, and they do it brilliant they push their two full-backs right up high, if you play four in midfield they actually push your wide players back.

"So we actually went to a swiveling five. The centre forward stayed up there and we played two central midfielders in there and a holding midfielder.”

In both games against Leeds, Pulis switched to a back three with wing-backs to combat the Whites’ attacking prowess.

Pablo Hernandez came off the bench against the Teessiders at the Riverside and remains a key player for Bielsa’s side.

Pulis also picked out Stuart Dallas, Jamie Shackleton and Kemar Roofe, who left Elland Road in the summer, when discussing Leeds’ 1-0 win over Charlton.

"There would be Hernandez on the right-hand side coming in and then you'd get Dallas going around the outside,” added Pulis. “Shackleton today would be in that pocket and last season it was Roofe who would come forward.

"It leaves you either outnumbered where they play through you there or it leaves that big space. We played with George Friend on the left-hand side and Dael Fry on the left-hand side and they swivelled that side.

"What we did which was very important is we made sure then that we still had bodies on the opposite side of the pitch. What they do really well is they get the ball out and switch it.

“Harrison gets it and in one-on-ones they are very good and they fill the box. They get a lot of chances from overloading one side and then switching the ball."