Neil Warnock was not interested in the result as his Leeds United side were thrashed 6-1 by Watford, admitting he lost interest in the game after seeing midfielder Rodolph Austin suffer a suspected broken leg.
United were a man and a goal down when the Jamaica international fell to the floor amid a melee from the corner, having earlier gone behind to Matej Vydra’s opener and lost Jason Pearce to a straight red card for a foul on Almen Abdi.
In response to that, Warnock adopted the cavalier approach of making all three of his substitutions by the time the second half had started so, when Austin was carried off on a stretcher two minutes after the restart, his side had to play the remaining time with nine men.
They were duly run ragged, with Vydra scoring again alongside goals from Abdi, Mark Yeates, Sean Murray and Troy Deeney. Michael Tonge’s penalty was Leeds’ sole response.
“I’m not devastated about the game but I am about Rudy, he has broken is leg in two places. We had made the subs and I wasn’t bothered, I thought the game of football was irrelevant today,” he said.
Leeds have yet to officially confirm the nature of the former SK Brann player’s injury, but Warnock added: “I was told it was a double fracture but he shouldn’t have been in that position (covering for Pearce at centre-half).
“I wanted to try and win the game with 10 men, but everything is irrelevant tonight, it’s the least of my worries when I think that we have lost Rudy for so long. When our lads knew about it, they were distraught.”
Leeds have now failed to win in their last six games and head to a tricky assignment at Millwall next weekend. They will be light on numbers with Austin out and Pearce and Michael Brown suspended. Warnock’s squad is already thin and at the mercy of a proposed takeover by Bahrain-based GFH Capital.
The transaction will shortly run into a seventh month and although well-placed sources on both sides of then deal say it remains on track, Warnock is desperate for it more than most. A move for a loan striker, believed to be Stoke’s Cameron Jerome, failed to materialise in time.
“Millwall next week is what makes football intriguing,” Warnock added. “Thank goodness we have a week off. It’s all hands on deck now, we will try and do it for Rudy.”
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola admitted he had taken a risk by employing such an attacking formation from the off, but was pleased to reap the rewards for his boldness.
The Italian looked to counter Leeds’ three-at-the-back set-up by going with a three-man attack and, after weathering an early storm when United hit the post, they were able to cut loose as the game went on, especially as Leeds’ numbers dropped.
“We took a gamble in the first half, we made changes and we knew we would risk something at the back,” he said.
“On the counter attack we looked dangerous and we could have even scored another goal. I tried to put a team on the pitch with good balance going forward, but I knew that playing in a game like today when Leeds wanted to win, we would have to leave spaces behind.
“The nature of the team I picked meant we would risk something.”
In hindsight, Zola should not have been worried. Despite the space afforded to them owing to Leeds’ numbers, there was no doubting the quality of their finishing. Every time they got a clear sight of Kenny’s goal, the outcome was a change to the scoreboard.
“It was a very good result, I am pleased for our strikers because we needed a confidence booster and this will provide it,” he said.
“To be honest, the fact that they had nine gave us a big advantage, but we did very well and used the extra man wisely. It proved to be a very good day for us.”
The one down side for Zola as he headed back down the M1, though, was a possible dislocated shoulder for Abdi.