Bad day for Leeds United, Jesse Marsch and honest striker, Sean Dyche pub visit and off-camera moments
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The Whites were dominant in the first half but could not find the net, while a defensive error from a set-piece helped the Reds take the lead through Brennan Johnson’s fine strike.
Half-time changes by Forest boss Steve Cooper changed the pattern of the game, depriving Leeds of space in which to create and shutting Marsch’s men out almost completely, despite dominance in possession and territory. And the full-time whistle saw a visibly drained Marsch approach the away end, only to be faced with further expressions of anger and frustration.
Here’s the YEP take on a game that gave the Elland Road board plenty of food for thought.
Imagine, for a second, that Leeds did not make the decision to pull the trigger on the Gnonto deal on deadline day last summer. Imagine if the hastily-arranged transfer had not gone through in time. The teenager is the best thing about Leeds’ attack right now and at times against Forest he was the only outlet. The plan appeared to be ‘give it to Willy’ and it was working in the first half because he’s so full of confidence, tricks and pace that, with room to work, he gives any defence a hard time. It was through no fault of the winger that Leeds had little to no joy in the second half. It’s remarkable that a team with such good attackers can end up so reliant on one youngster. Putting a price on Gnonto right now is a difficult task, but he’s priceless to Leeds in their current situation.
The on-loan PSG goalkeeper had a storming first half, denying Leeds a number of times with hugely important stops. Took a boot to the face for his trouble but his performance never wavered. So well protected in the second half that he had very little to do.
The Austrian can already be bestowed with the title ‘sold signing’ so steady has he been since his arrival from Salzburg.
There are players who had a bad day, either in front of goal or through individual errors and underperformance but ultimately the responsibility for the defeat rests with the manager. He admitted as much at full-time. Leeds were good enough to be ahead at the break, they created enough and should have scored. Yet when the opposition manager made changes, Leeds and Marsch appeared to have no response. The results this season have not been good enough and his belief that they are on the right track is not being backed up by evidence. When a head coach loses the fans, it’s incredibly difficult to see a way forward for him at a club. Marsch’s insistence that everyone is ‘aligned’ will be severely tested this week.
The striker started the afternoon with a truly beautiful display of support for family friends, placing a bouquet of flowers on the City Ground turf in memory of ex-Forest owner Nigel Doughty, who died on February 4, 2012. Bamford is close friends with Nigel’s son Michael, who was left teary eyed at the tribute. Bamford, by every account, is a brilliant human being. He’s a very good footballer too, but didn’t show that against his boyhood club. One big chance came his way and he miskicked. It can’t be said that the service was sterling however. His second half substitution was met with unfortunate barracking by home fans, presumably unaware of his magnificent gesture earlier in the day. And his full-time interview was then interpreted, by Leeds supporters, as a dig at the tactics. His words, however, were just an honest appraisal of the difficulty he as a striker encountered against Forest, a difficulty he could not resolve because it was down to the system.
Sam Greenwood and Morgan Gibbs-White ex-England youth team-mates, greeting one another upon arrival at the City Ground.
Dean Henderson and Chris Armas, former Manchester United colleagues, catching up on the touchline as the teams made their way into the dressing rooms following the warm-up.
Luke Ayling having words with Forest defender Remo Freuler during a first half stoppage of play and then going round the pitch rallying his Leeds team-mates, with the side on top at that point but still 1-0 down.
Marsch aiming a kick at a water bottle as the second half continued to play out in frustrating fashion.
The head coach and his assistants Rene Maric and Chris Armas huddling for an immediate full-time whistle debrief before venturing onto the pitch towards the away fans.
Sean Dyche heading straight to the pub next door after watching on at the City Ground as his and Everton’s relegation rival lost 1-0. With a win over Arsenal already under his belt and evidence that Leeds’ struggles will continue, presumably the former Burnley boss was in a celebratory mood.