Leeds United: Allardyce makes fitness admission, days off pre-West Ham
Sam Allardyce says there isn’t enough time to get his Leeds United players any fitter and so he has had to focus on mental improvements.
The Whites have been badly affected by injuries at the worst time this season, with Tyler Adams and Luis Sinisterra ruled out for the rest of the campaign during the relegation battle, while a revolving door has seen centre backs Liam Cooper and Max Wober come in and out of the line up.
At the same time veteran midfielder Adam Forshaw, whom Allardyce has been tipped to otherwise be pinning a lot of hopes on [Phil Hay Monday Club, 15 May], has only been fit to play a half of late, and the manager admits that with just four games left of the season when he came in all he could do to lift his squad’s levels was give them a mental break in the form of “brain space”.
Allardyce told The Times: “Physically, we can’t get them any fitter. There just isn’t time. But mentally we can. We came in and realised they’d had very little time off.
“They’d been working relentlessly. So we’ve given them a break. This week, because we’re playing on Sunday, they’ve had two days off, because sometimes you just need what I call ‘brain space’.”
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It is an unfortunate fact of matters that with such little time to work with there is going to be a limited amount of action available to the club’s fourth first-team manager this season.
The overall fitness, or lack of, at Leeds United has been a point of contention since an injury crisis struck last season under Marcelo Bielsa, amid notoriously taxing training regimes under the Argentine.
Jesse Marsch claimed the players had been “overtrained” in an interview with talkSPORT (12 April 2022) when he came in, which didn’t go down especially well.
And now there is nothing of the second wind that the Whites used to exhibit late in games, as they had become far more accustomed to flagging and falling apart recently.
That appears to have been addressed somewhat by Allardyce’s arrival, with a 2-1 defeat at a Manchester City side who are steamrolling everything in their path, and a battling 2-2 draw with Champions League-chasing Newcastle so far.
With a vital trip to West Ham on Sunday (21 May) fans will be desperately hoping that the two days off has mentally refreshed a set of players who have been through plenty of tough times this season enough to get an absolutely vital win.
In other Leeds United news, five names have been tipped to fetch £100million in a relegation fire sale thanks to “market value” clauses which have emerged in their contracts.