Jason Pearce voiced his disappointment and said Leeds United’s performance had come as a “big shock” to him after their first game of the new season ended in a 2-0 defeat at Millwall.
The centre-back, who captained Leeds in London, delivered a brutally honest assessment of Saturday’s result at The Den, saying United’s display “wasn’t good enough” and admitting the team “didn’t look right up for it.”
Leeds were beaten by goals from Mark Beevers and Shaun Williams, the first coming on eight minutes and the second scored from the penalty spot late in the game.
United struggled to impose themselves before half-time but came into the match after the interval and had several chances to claim a point, the best falling to Noel Hunt in the 47th minute.
But Williams’ late penalty – converted after a foul by youngster Lewis Cook on Lee Gregory – put the result beyond doubt and Pearce said: “I’m massively disappointed.
“We’ve worked really hard and we felt we’d come on strides with the way we were playing so this is a big shock. We’re really disappointed as a team.
“We thought we were ready but personally I didn’t think we looked right up for it.
“I don’t think we were right as a team. They looked better than us, especially in the first half.
“There are lots of new faces here but it wasn’t good enough. I don’t think we showed what we’re about.
“But we’ve got to stick together and go again.”
Head coach David Hockaday started three of Leeds’ seven summer signings while also handing 17-year-old Cook his senior debut as a substitute in the second half.
United’s most dominant spell came shortly before Williams killed the game on 87 minutes and Hockaday, like Pearce, blamed the performance before half-time for Leeds’ defeat.
“We didn’t handle the occasion in the first half but in the second we were better,” Hockaday said.
“We had chances and you’ve got to take your chances. We didn’t so we’ve only got
ourselves to blame.” Leeds are still to officially name a new club captain and a successor to Ross McCormack but Pearce carried the armband for most of pre-season and led the team on Saturday.
“It’s a great honour, I want to be captain and I’ll try to galvanise the team,” he said.
Pearce also spoke out in support of Hockaday, saying: “The gaffer’s come in and people have said they don’t know who he is and stuff like that but he’s had a great effect on the lads.
“He’s got us together and we do feel like we’re a team. We haven’t show that here but we’ll go away and look at what we can improve.”