'As a defender I would be devastated' - Dominic Matteo on Leeds United defensive woes, Pablo Hernandez and VAR anger

DEFENSIVE WOE - Illan Meslier has picked the ball out of his net eight times in Leeds United's last two games. Dominic Matteo says the naivety has to stop. Pic: GettyDEFENSIVE WOE - Illan Meslier has picked the ball out of his net eight times in Leeds United's last two games. Dominic Matteo says the naivety has to stop. Pic: Getty
DEFENSIVE WOE - Illan Meslier has picked the ball out of his net eight times in Leeds United's last two games. Dominic Matteo says the naivety has to stop. Pic: Getty
The international break is here and the disappointing thing for me is that it takes a big part of the Leeds United defence away from Thorp Arch.

While Robin Koch and Liam Cooper play for Germany and Scotland they miss out on that time on the training ground.

I think Marcelo Bielsa, with all his knowledge, will be keen to make defensive improvements during this period because although we’ve been great to watch and had lovely compliments, he won’t want to ship so many goals.

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For defenders it must be a nightmare at times, because we’re so attacking. The first thing I was thinking about as a defender was ‘what if’ – what if we lose the ball – and Leeds don’t seem to have a ‘what if.’

No matter who is playing at Thorp Arch in these two weeks, the emphasis has to be on when we lose the ball and transition, getting numbers back. The fitness isn’t a problem, it’s just doing the right things.

We conceded four against Leicester and four against Crystal Palace and, as a defender, I would be devastated.

I remember playing at the back with Rio Ferdinand and thinking let’s try and be the best defence in the league. That’s going to be difficult for Leeds, they’re so attacking. Sometimes we just have to get the right number behind the ball and do the basics better.

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Offensively, I’m not worried about Leeds, I think they’ll create chances, they’ll have a threat and score goals – Raphinha came on against Palace and had something about him – but they have to get better defensively.

I feel there’s been a bit of naivety in the last two games and we’ve conceded poor goals.

Playing against a Roy Hodgson side, I know there were circumstances in the game that need to be taken into account, but there was poor defending. You know what you will be up against.

I’ve been one of Luke Ayling’s biggest supporters and he has been outstanding for Leeds, before promotion and since, but up against a top line player like Wilfried Zaha, he just didn’t look comfortable defensively.

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Maybe he’s still looking to get forward when he should be taking up good defensive positions.

I would be thinking just do my job today, defend, don’t give Zaha a chance but we just didn’t get tight to him. If he gets space and time he’ll kill you and he was a real thorn in our side.

You know what you’re going to get with Zaha, he has quality and we struggled with him.

I don’t care if you’re playing against Liverpool, City or Palace, if you don’t do the basics well you will be found out.

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People will think I’m being critical but when you’ve conceded 17, it’s too many.

A lot of teams have been conceding and people point to the lack of fans for that, but we’ve had a lot of games now without fans, going right back to the final games of last season. It cannot be an excuse.

We cannot say Leeds don’t put a shift in, but maybe sometimes conserve your energy and don’t waste it, you have to do the right things.

In front of the defence Kalvin Phillips is a massive, massive loss and that’s become even more apparent.

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The role doesn’t really suit Mateusz Klich, as we saw against Leicester and we know Pascal Struijk will develop and improve, but it is a worry that when Kalvin is out, the team just don’t play the same way.

Further forward, we were missing Rodrigo and Pablo Hernandez, who was fit but not selected. If you disrespect the manager when you’re substituted and you’re called out for it, sometimes there have to be repurcussions but I would have played him against Palace.

I don’t know Pablo Hernandez personally but sometimes maybe he just needs that little bit of anger. He wasn’t brilliant against Leicester, he was frustrated and that’s when you need to pick him.

Hernandez showed that other side to him and I don’t think Bielsa likes that, I think he wants everyone on the same page.

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He’s probably not been as fit as he wanted to be, not as sharp as he’d like to be, maybe doesn’t feel he’s had the game time. But Hernandez is one of the players we still need, if we’re going to have a decent year because he’s got that bit of quality.

I think it was petulant, he was very frustrated but it did show how much it still means to him, even at his age.

The game’s other talking point on Saturday is obvious, the goal that should have counted.

Bamford deserved that goal, it was a brilliant move and he’s done nothing wrong, he wasn’t trying to encroach or cheat.

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Are we saying strikers can’t move towards goal with their arms lifted? I couldn’t quite believe it but we’re seeing a lot of it, it’s not just Leeds who have suffered.

Handball is another issue. I would be conceding penalties for fun, Jamie Carragher has said the same - we were brought up to stand up and be big, get anything in front to block that ball.

Confusion is not good for players or for supporters. Great moments and great games are being ruined by such bad decisions.

The Dominic Matteo column is in association with Data Facilities