Thomas Christiansen criticised the effort of his players but denied disrespecting Newport County after a much-changed Leeds United side were humiliated in an FA Cup third-round defeat.
League Two Newport made a dominant performance at Rodney Parade pay as Conor Shaughnessy’s own goal and a header from substitute Shawn McCoulsky in the final 15 minutes condemned Leeds to a 2-1 loss yesterday.
United were scalped in a live television broadcast after a line-up showing nine alterations from their Championship draw with Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day struggled to cope with the intensity of a Newport side which was unchanged from their previous league fixture.
Christiansen fielded a number of fringe players and saw Gaetano Berardi claim a first career goal with just nine minutes gone but in a repeat of last season’s fourth-round loss at non-league Sutton United, a match for which former head coach Garry Monk made 10 changes, Leeds struggled to handle the pressure created by a team 53 places below them in the English pyramid.
United’s frustration deepened in injury-time when influential playmaker Samuel Saiz was shown a straight red card for allegedly spitting at Newport’s Robbie Willmott, seconds after McClousky’s 89th-minute winner.
It was very bad. The result was the worst and we didn’t give everything we had during the game.Leeds United head coach, Thomas Christiansen
Christiansen defended his choice of team, saying regular changes had not stopped Leeds from reaching the fourth round of the Carabao Cup earlier in the season, but held his hands up to a deserved defeat.
“It was very bad,” Christiansen said. “The result was the worst and we didn’t give everything we had during the game.
“We were not intense enough and unfortunately we are out but if you look, every player we had in the first XI is a player from the first team – players who have had possibilities in the first XI. For this we expect more and it should be enough to pass to the next round.
“I take the blame. Always the manager takes the blame and I will do it also today. But against Burnley (in the League Cup) I made 10 changes and they made it (to the next round) with a perfect performance. Against Leicester we made nine or 10 and did very well so why not today? What is the difference today?”
United’s head coach rejected suggestions that his line-up had disrespected Newport or the FA Cup. “At our press conference before the game I said I didn’t want anyone to disrespect any teams,” Christiansen said. “They deserve respect. Over 90 minutes you have to prove you are better. We didn’t do that.
“I don’t know if it’s attitude. We just needed to put more into the game and understand where the danger came from and how to combat it. I put a small video about Newport together, about what they were doing. It was all direct play, second balls inside the box. You have to avoid these things.”
Christiansen also insisted that his players understood the significance of the FA Cup, saying: “They now what it means. If I know what the FA Cup means and I come from Denmark, I’m half-Spanish. If they don’t know that then they are not in the right situation.
“I’m sorry for the fans because it’s a long journey and they spend their money. I would also be disappointed to make this trip and not take a good result. But this football, these things happen and this is what makes the FA Cup special. You know this can happen but you never want it to happen to you.”