Marcelo Bielsa has defended his decision to make goalkeeper Kiko Casilla Leeds’ captain for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Hull.
Casilla was banned for eight matches in February and fined £60,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing Charlton forward Jonathan Leko and Leeds fans have expressed their concerns over the decision on social media.
“I interpreted the feeling of his team-mates,” said Bielsa after Spaniard Casilla skippered the side in the absence of the injured Liam Cooper.
“His team-mates think he deserved to be the captain and we have to listen to those messages.”
Bielsa added: “The players see in their captain someone they feel can represent them. I respect the opinions of any person. After that opinions can be argued.
“Surely those who judge Kiko ignore a lot of the things his team-mates see in him?”
Bielsa said that he could not ignore his players’ request because a section of fans did not agree with it.
“You’re saying I should have contemplated over whether to pick Kiko as captain, either take the opinion of the fans or the players,” he said.
“I cannot deny that the captain not only represents his team-mates, but he also represents the club.
“The opinion of the masses should always be heard. But I don’t know if you guys know what percentage of fans it is.
“Of course we also value the conduct of Kiko, which only we can judge because we are part of the group.
“If there is a correlation between what the authorities, the fans and his team-mates think, surely the public won’t have all the information that his team-mates would have?”
Casilla was alleged to have racially abused Leko during Leeds’ 1-0 defeat at The Valley in September last year.
The Football Association began an investigation the following month and their subsequent charge was found proven by an independent regulatory commission.
Leeds play Fulham on Saturday in their first Premier League home game since winning promotion in July and Bielsa is expected to switch back to his strongest line-up.
The Argentinian made 11 changes for the Carabao Cup tie against Hull, which they lost 9-8 in a penalty shoot-out after Ezgjan Alioski had fired a stoppage-time equaliser for Leeds.
Bielsa is hoping Cooper can return to the starting line-up after missing the last two games due to a calf injury.
Rodrigo made his first start against Hull and showed glimpses of why Leeds made him their £27million club record signing last month, but Bielsa confirmed the Brazil-born Spaniard will not start against Fulham.