Marcelo Bielsa insisted Patrick Bamford deserves all the credit for transforming his career after the striker’s hat-trick inspired a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Friday.
Bielsa’s side moved into third in the Premier League thanks to Bamford’s 19-minute treble in the second half at Villa Park.
Bamford had one goal in 27 Premier League appearances prior to this season, but he already has six in six games this term.
The hat-trick provided a sweet moment for the 27-year-old, who endured a long and winding road to the top enduring long-running criticism of his finishing.
Bamford had seven loan spells during his time as a Chelsea youth academy graduate before moving to Middlesbrough, then finally finding his feet under Bielsa’s tutelage at Leeds.
«It’s a dream come true. When the third went in it was elation. I will be telling my kids about this,» Bamford said after becoming only the second player to score in each of Leeds’s opening three top-flight away games since Gordon Hodgson in 1937-38.
«It is testament to how the team has worked. Without them I wouldn’t be able to score.
«Marcelo has put a lot of trust in me. People say Bielsa is a myth but we have shown Leeds are here to compete.»
While Bamford recognises Bielsa’s role in his rise, the Leeds boss said his player’s renaissance was down to hard work and a humble approach.
«Very happy for Patrick because he scored some wonderful goals. Apart from that a noble player who sacrifices a lot for the team. He’s generous also,» Bielsa said.
«I think his development is more to do with him and less to do with me.»
Leeds’ third league win since their promotion from the Championship was the perfect response after losing against Wolves on Monday.
«It was an important game for us and a deserved triumph. We scored first and were a little bit lucky they didn’t score some of the chances they had,» Bielsa said.
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– ‘Bloody nose’ –
– ‘Bloody nose’ –
For Villa, their four-game winning run came to a halt as they missed the chance to start a season with five successive victories for the first time in their history.
Villa only escaped relegation on the final day of last season, so the first defeat could serve as a reality check for Dean Smith’s team after their unexpectedly strong start.
Smith had told his players they would get «a bloody nose very quickly» if they rested on their laurels, but they did not heed the warning as Bamford delivered the knockout punches.
Leeds could have been ahead inside the first four minutes when Bamford headed just wide from Ezgjan Alioski’s deep cross
Villa nearly took the lead against the run of play when Jack Grealish saw his shot superbly cleared off the line by Luke Ayling’s last-ditch intervention.
Grealish carried Villa’s main threat and the winger’s penalty appeal was rejected by VAR after he went down under minimal contact from Helder Costa.
Showcasing the skill that has prompted many to question England manager Gareth Southgate’s decision not to use him more often, Grealish twisted past the Leeds defence with some nimble footwork before Illan Meslier smothered his shot.
But Bamford broke the deadlock in the 55th minute with a close-range finish after Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez pushed Rodrigo’s effort into his path.
Trailing for the first time in nine league matches, Villa were finished off by Bamford in the 67th minute.
Smashing a blistering strike into the top corner from the edge of the area, Bamford gave Martinez no chance.
Bamford completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute when he took Costa’s pass and worked a yard of space inside the area before curling his shot past Martinez.