Leeds fans are calling for 19-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt to start for Leeds against Arsenal after their 7-0 drubbing by Manchester City, having seen the teenager score his first Premier League goal at Chelsea last weekend
Image: Action Images via Reuters)
The calls for Marcelo Bielsa to start teen sensation Joe Gelhardt against Arsenal on Saturday will only grow louder after Leeds’ 7-0 thumping by Manchester City.
But don’t expect the Leeds boss to listen.
Unlike other managers who always have an ear out for what the fans are saying, Bielsa ignores all the outside noise.
Bielsa does not need telling how good Gelhardt can be and he sees his vast potential every day in training.
But he won’t start him against Arsenal just to appease the fans, even though that would be a smart move after Leeds’ heaviest Premier League loss at the Etihad.
Bielsa has used Tyler Roberts and Dan James in the No.9 role in the absence of the injured Patrick Bamford because he feels they are better suited to that position, even though neither has exactly been banging the goals in.
He sees Gelhardt as more of an impact player at this moment and he proved that when he came on against Wolves and won a stoppage-time penalty and with his assured finish off the bench at Chelsea on Saturday.
Bielsa could also argue that starting a teenager up front when the team is in such turmoil risks damaging him and the Argentinian will always think of his players’ interests.
He was just as unyielding at the start of Leeds’ Championship-winning campaign when he ignored fans’ calls to start on-loan Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah ahead of Bamford.
Yet it is only a matter of time before Gelhardt starts more regularly in the league for Leeds and he has already given glimpses of his talent this season.
He scored twice for the Under-23s in their 4-0 drubbing of his boyhood club Liverpool in September and then coolly converted a spot-kick in Leeds’ shoot-out win over Fulham in the Carabao Cup.
The Scouser has been likened to Wayne Rooney because of his physique, although he has lost eight kilograms at Leeds because of Bielsa’s strict nutritional regime, and knack of scoring spectacular goals.
The left-footer’s prowess was evident from as soon as he could walk and he would entertain his family doing keepy-uppies with a rolled-up sock.
He had spells with Everton and Tranmere before Wigan signed him as a 10-year-old in 2013.
He made his debut for the Latics in 2018 aged 16 and made his breakthrough in the 2019-2020 campaign when the club were docked 12 points for going into administration and were relegated.
Leeds’ initial £700,000 outlay for Gelhardt looks like being one of the steals of the decade for a such a skilful young player and they fought off competition from Leicester to land him.
Gelhardt has developed rapidly this season and it is a question of when, not if, he becomes a regular for Leeds.
Bielsa will decide that moment and not Leeds fans.