Injury problems, wasteful finishing and sloppy defending have contributed towards Leeds’ winless start in the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa was asked on Thursday lunchtime whether Leeds United's wretched start to the season had cost him sleep.
Bielsa’s side lie in the Premier League relegation zone and Saturday’s visit of newly-promoted Watford has taken on added significance.
Victory at the seventh time of asking would finally ignite Leeds’ campaign and encourage hopes they can rise again following last season’s ninth-placed finish.
Another defeat, though, would spell more doom and gloom and raise further doubts about the depth of their squad as winter approaches.
It does not faze Bielsa, certainly not to the point where he lies awake at night.
“I sleep normally and I always have the hope that we’re able to win our games,” said the Argentinian head coach, now in his fourth season at Elland Road.
“What we’re forced to do every time we play is to ensure we deserve to impose ourselves. It’s a lot easier to get what you’re looking for when you deserve it than when you don’t. But football has that particularity which prizes those who don’t deserve to get them.”
Leeds’ relentless, high-energy approach remains a joy to watch but at times it feels simply too gung-ho.
It was another knife in the side of a team beset by injuries, with Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Adam Forshaw and Patrick Bamford absent again this weekend.
Bielsa was forced to hand a Premier League debut to 19-year-old Charlie Cresswell against the Hammers. The centre-half showed huge promise, but Pascal Struijk and Diego Llorente are available again to bolster Bielsa’s defensive options against Watford.
Injuries aside, Leeds continue to spurn too many chances in front of goal and have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
The longer they go without a win, the more the anxiety of a huge and expectant fanbase increases.
You have to go back over 17 years for when Leeds last won a Premier League game in front of a capacity crowd at Elland Road.
Following their return to the top flight last season, all bar one of Leeds’ home games were played in front of empty stands; the final-day visit of West Brom was watched by 8,000 as restrictions began to ease.
“Each one of us hopes and desires what the fans want,” added 66-year-old Bielsa, who has masterminded huge progress in each of his three previous seasons in charge.
“I have experienced playing at a full Elland Road in the Championship, but the Premier League is different. The players haven’t lost confidence so there is no need to give something that’s already there. What we do in every case is to perceive the errors and try and correct them.”
Bielsa was forced to fend off questions about Junior Firpo’s indifferent start to his Leeds career. The left-back was signed for Barcelona in the summer for £12.8m and scored an own-goal in the West Ham defeat.
“Junior has had a regular performance and he’s grown, but below what he’s capable of doing,” admitted Bielsa. “When Junior manages to have the rhythm the Premier League imposes on you, he’s going to be a full-back who shines a lot. He has all the physical and technical resources to generate moments of very good football.”
Bielsa was also quizzed about Kalvin Phillips' future amid transfer links with hated rivals Manchester United.
As Phillips’ agent, Kevin Sharp, told i this week,the England midfielder is set to sign a new and improved long-term deal to stay at Leeds.
The news came as a blessed relief to a set of supporters who will descend on Elland Road with all their usual zeal on Saturday for a game which feels must-win for Leeds.
Watford will be no pushovers, though, and Bielsa cautioned: “They are a solid team – they have combative, experienced players with forwards who are quick and can surprise you.”
Heading into the international break without a Premier League victory would be a genuine cause for concern at Elland Road.
Leeds need a win against the Hornets – however it may come – and nothing less will do.