‘Mentally soft’ Leeds United could have been on end of bigger score – Whelan

Huddersfield's Karim Matmour, left, celebrates his goal against Leeds United.

Huddersfield's Karim Matmour, left, celebrates his goal against Leeds United.

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SATURDAY was yet another embarrassing result for Leeds United and we just never got near Huddersfield Town.

The second half in particular was very lacklustre and soft, and, overall, it was a mentally poor performance and I don’t think anyone came out of it with any credit and no-one could come off the pitch feeling like they had done a job.

We didn’t match Huddersfield anywhere across the field and it was sad to see. I felt sorry for nearly 30,000 fans who turned up to see a very poor and weak performance.

The second half was like the Brighton game and heads went down and we lost our discipline. We needed strong characters out there and we didn’t have them.

Collectively, the players have to figure out how to make things better at Elland Road because this is not a Leeds United side who can play at home unfortunately.

Whether it is too big for them or they can’t deal with the pressure, I am not sure. Whether they were following instructions, I am not sure either. But they simply have to do better, you have to do the horrible side of the game – the tackling and competing – and then show quality and movement on the ball, and we failed to do all that.

Every single player has to figure out how to win football matches regularly.

Bad habits crept back into our game in front of a big crowd who were expecting a lot better, but didn’t get it.

We did not create enough chances and were second best and it didn’t look like we had a structure to how we played. Huddersfield stuck to their philosophy of how they play and were the better team from start to finish.

They passed around us like we weren’t even there and their intensity of closing down was much better than ours. We lacked quality and were sloppy and, despite having the momentum of three wins on the bounce, we just never turned up.

In the last few games, we had beaten teams by counter-attacking. But on Saturday, we didn’t do anything with purpose. I do think the team were mentally soft and you have to keep fighting to change the game and do things a bit better.

But no-one rose to the occasion and we just allowed it to happen and we were second best and I do think it is a mental problem, collectively as a team and individually.

When you talk about winning games, a lot is done off the ball and you must have that hunger to work hard, tackle and close down. We do it in spells, but it has to be over 90 minutes.

That was the difference in Saturday’s game.

Huddersfield did that and were passing it around us and, in the end, the scoreline could have been a lot more to be honest, if it hadn’t been for the penalty save and a couple of other saves in the second half.

Defensively, it was extremely poor again and I am not just talking about the back four, but from the front to the back. Everyone, collectively as a team, did not put a shift in. Bad habits crept in again, such as not dealing with set-pieces or marking men.

For the third goal, Nahki Wells played it across the box and Matmour was at the back post by himself. Where was the midfield runner who was tracking him? Huddersfield went that extra mile and we didn’t and that is the difference.

We needed strong characters on the field and we didn’t have them.

The majority of games are won and lost in the midfield battle and we got played around, didn’t have enough energy and weren’t clever enough. Their movement off the ball was better than ours and we didn’t close them down. We didn’t have enough energy.