The introduction of width to Leeds United’s playing philosophy under Javi Gracia has played a key role in defender Junior Firpo unlocking his potential.
Firpo himself has claimed as such, in a recent interview with the Official Leeds United podcast.
The Spaniard – by his own admission – has struggled since his arrival from La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer of 2021 and at times has been the subject of criticism from frustrated Whites supporters.
Fellow countryman Gracia’s arrival in West Yorkshire following the sacking of previous head coach Marsch has coincided with a significant up-tick in form for the previously maligned 26-year-old, however.
This is no coincidence according to Firpo, who claims that the increased quality of his recent performances is linked with the tactical changes ushered in by Gracia.
There is no doubt that Leeds have looked more compact and structured since the 52-year-old’s arrival, a fact backed up by the fact that the Whites have secured 7 points from his 4 Premier League games in charge.
Yet for Firpo, it is the increased width with which Leeds now play that has played a critical role in unleashing his full potential within the left-back position.
“The biggest thing on the pitch is that now we play with full width. So I have options. Before when I had the ball it was a little bit difficult, I didn’t have a winger in front of me to play the ball with,” he said.
“We were compact, narrow, and it was difficult to find an option. Now I can do my game.
I can overlap, I can underlap, I can go forward where I can play with Jack [Harrison] or whoever is in front of me.”
Firpo will be hoping his Leeds renaissance continues this Saturday when his side face a tough return to action against league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates following the international break.