I had a horrible feeling on the way to Brighton that we might be in for a bad night down there. I always try to be hopeful before every game but Brighton have all of the attributes we struggle against.
They’ve got no big target man and there’s no long-ball aspect to their game. It’s all quick, it’s all on the floor and that never brings the best out of this Leeds United squad. Brighton had their tails up after a big win at Bristol City and, in the end, the first half was a disaster.
There’s no excusing it and there’s no way of consoling the 1,500 fans who made the trip to the south coast. I honestly thought they were magnificent. Considering the circumstances, they were incredibly good-spirited and didn’t make any attempt to get on the players’ backs, even though criticism was clearly warranted. I’ve seen away crowds turn in the face of far less.
As far as I’m concerned, you can forget the second half. We had much more of it and looked much more organised but at 4-0 up, Brighton were going through the motions. They were saving themselves from injury and exertion. The whole night has to be seen as a shocker – but at the same time it has to be put to bed quickly.
We’re a few results short of guaranteed safety in the Championship and the sooner we get to a point of safety the better. It won’t take much to draw a line under this season but we certainly need to beat Bolton Wanderers tomorrow. It’s suddenly become the biggest game of the year and a win is vital.
My feeling after Monday was that criticism of the players needed to be limited and constructive. They deserved some stick for the way they performed and the way they defended but, at the same time, we’ve still got 13 games to go. We still have to pick ourselves up again and it doesn’t help to destroy people on the back of one shocking night.
A lot was made of the fact that no-one from the club spoke to the press afterwards, but it’s not that uncommon for people to keep their counsel on a night like that. You used to see it with Alex Ferguson and other managers in the Premier League.
I’m sure Steve Evans would have been very tempted to speak his mind, but when emotions are running high, it’s easy to say the wrong thing, say something you don’t mean or say something you later regret. Before you know it, you can find yourself going over the top and losing control.
Steve will have been gutted with that performance. The players will have been gutted about it.
It’s humiliating for professionals to lose like that and they’ll feel very sorry for the supporters who made that long trip. But I feel like everything is being blown up and jumped on again, by the national press and by the local media too.
This really isn’t a good time to be piling pressure on the club and I certainly wouldn’t look to do that.
I’ve said consistently in this column that we need big changes to the squad in the summer. If we’re going to compete in the Championship, we have to build a much stronger group of players and, quite honestly, that’s going to take a lot of money. Otherwise we’ll be out of the running again next season.
But this isn’t the time to be arguing about that. It’s a time for getting points on the board and for making sure that we’re well away from the bottom three and not in the mix when we get down to the last few games.
As hard as this season’s been, the players and the staff really do need maximum support. They don’t need to feel like they’re treading on eggshells or playing with the wolves at the door.
The fans are owed a response after the defeat at Brighton, but we need a result tomorrow for a whole host of reasons.
Let’s get over the line first and then think about what comes next.
And let’s not distract ourselves from the job in hand by fighting amongst ourselves.