Leeds United: Encouraging signs but we must stop shooting ourselves in the foot

Marco Silvestri.

Marco Silvestri.

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The general consensus was that Leeds United played very well at Ewood Park on Saturday. Even a few Blackburn fans sitting around us thought they were lucky to take something from the game.

That’s all well and good but the footballer in me wants points, not sympathy. There are plenty of positives to take from the game and plenty to be said about the way our players performed but we’re getting to the stage of the season where results really matter.

The league table is very tight at the moment and it’s difficult to know what to make of it. On one hand we’re two points above the bottom three. But on the other we’re in 16th place, in amongst a huge group of clubs all locked together.

I certainly don’t think we should read too much into the fact that we’re close to the relegation places. That’s not a worry for me at this stage. I’m enjoying the football we’re producing and I’m reassured by the confidence I’m seeing in the players. I just wish we were getting more rewards.

Confidence was the thing that shone through in the first half at Blackburn. We were bright, lively and very willing to carry the ball forward. Our passing was sharp and by the time we opened the scoring, I thought the lead was deserved.

Blackburn had a difficult afternoon. They’re in decent form but it never quite clicked for them. In part I think that’s because we played well and always looked dangerous. But yet again we’re talking about a defeat – and a defeat caused by a daft mistake.

If a better team beats you then there’s not a lot you can do. Some sides have more in the locker than you do and that’s the way football goes. We can’t all be equal.

But Blackburn’s equaliser was shocking. There’s no other word for it. For me the blame for the error has to lie with Marco Silvestri. He’s a good goalkeeper and he’s done very well this season but he’s made a couple of big mistakes in the past month and he’s got to cut them out.

A keeper should never race off his line unless he’s 100 per cent certain that he’s going to reach the ball and deal with it. Silvestri had Liam Cooper covering and could easily have told him to stick a clearance into the crowd. Instead, the two of them got in a tangle and Jordan Rhodes got himself a tap-in.

I’ve no doubt that the message from Neil Redfearn before Saturday’s game would have been to make Rhodes and Rudy Gestede work hard for the smallest of chances. In the main the players did that pretty well so to give Rhodes such a simple goal was criminal. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

As for the penalty, I’m in two minds about it. A lot of people have accused Luke Varney of diving but I have to be honest and say that in real time, as it happened, my first thought was ‘penalty’.

I could only judge from the position I was sitting in and that’s how it looked to me. The replays might tell a different story. All I’d say is that in those circumstances, with Blackburn down to 10 men and settling for a point, it’s better not to take any chances in situations like that. Referees will often even things up.

Blackburn would have been happy with a draw by then. They’d brought on a defender, left one up top and must have been delighted when Sam Byram gave away the penalty. Sam will feel hard done to but in future he’ll probably manage a similar situation differently. It’s a tough lesson.

All in all, it wasn’t our day. Nothing fell for us and nothing broke for us. But the players shouldn’t be negative about that. They shouldn’t allow any doubt to creep in about the way they’re playing. They’ve got the right guns and they need to stick to them. They need to stick to them against Derby County this weekend.

Derby are a very useful side. They’re top of the league and they’ll probably go up.

But if we play like we played on Saturday and in the better parts of the game against Blackpool, I fancy us to get something from it. This match is there to be won.

Full stretch: Rob Green has been ever-present for Leeds in the Championship this term.

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