LEEDS UNITED captain Liam Cooper insisted the club’s position at the top of the Championship should not gloss over a first league defeat of the season as he criticised the bad start which cost them three points against Birmingham City.
An honest Cooper admitted that Leeds “don’t deserve anything when you start like that” after a 2-1 loss to Garry Monk’s Birmingham ended their eight-game unbeaten run.
United held onto first place in the Championship on Saturday, ahead of Middlesbrough on goal difference, but turned in their least convincing performance under Marcelo Bielsa and failed to recover from two Che Adams strikes inside the first 30 minutes.
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Bielsa’s side dominated the second half in front of a sell-out crowd at Elland Road but a Gjanni Alioski goal five minutes from the end of normal time came too late to prevent defeat and Cooper refused to use the club’s early-season form to defend a rare off-day.
“We’ve still got to come to the fact that we’ve been poor in the first (30) minutes,” he said. “All I can say is it’s not good enough and it will be put right.
“In this league you can’t afford to not be at it in any game. You get punished and that’s what’s happened. I said to the lads that we don’t deserve anything from the game when you start like that.
“I keep talking about standards and we’ve set them very high. We know when we’re not at it.
All I can say is it’s not good enough and it will be put right.Liam Cooper
“I think there was only one team who were going to score goals in the second half, it was comfortable and it was one way, but fair play to Birmingham. They’ve come and done a job on us.”
Bielsa has won much acclaim during the early stages of his reign at Leeds and the EFL named him manager of the month for August after Leeds reached September at the top of the Championship.
The former Argentina coach attempted to deflect criticism from his players after full-time on Saturday, saying he was to blame for the decision to start the game with a four-man defence rather than a back three.
But Cooper said: “I don’t think we can say that. As players we’ve got to take it on the chin. We talk about standards and we’ve set them all year so to come out like that isn’t good enough.
“But the Championship’s a funny league and we can go and put that right in a Yorkshire derby (against Sheffield Wednesday) on Friday. So move on now.”
Adams’ first goal on eight minutes came via a 20-yard shot which United goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell failed to read and allowed to beat him low to his right.
The 21-year-old has been first choice under Bielsa and also broke into the Northern Ireland side during the recent international break but looked out of sorts during the loss to Monk’s team.
Cooper said: “Bailey’s a young keeper, he’s going to make mistakes and these things happen.
“He’s got to expect that these things are going to creep in every now and again and it’s the way he bounces back from them that matters.
“He’s a strong lad, he’s a great goalkeeper and I’ve told him that. He just needs to not let it affect him.”