Christmas not a time for reflection for Liam Cooper and Leeds United, as attention turns to Birmingham City and beyond

Christmas is not a time of reflection for footballers like Liam Cooper, it is a time for looking forward.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 28th December 2019, 12:00 pm

The Leeds United captain turned his attention to a trip to Birmingham before Elland Road had fully emptied following a Boxing Day draw with Preston North End.

It is perhaps no small mercy that the relentless nature of the festive period disallows lengthy post-mortems because there was a lot of instantly forgettable football played by the Whites, who needed an 89th minute equaliser to rescue a point and avoid back-to-back defeats.

As keen as Cooper and his side will be to move on and put this one behind them, the performance won’t be forgotten entirely, it was not a complete write off and it can still be fuel for the fire.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

“We will analyse the game, like we always do,” he said.

“Marcelo [Bielsa, head coach] and his staff analyse the game and we will iron it out and that it is the way it will be. We will be better for it, come the next game and all we can keep doing is improving and after the first 25 minutes, I thought we did that and we were back to ourselves and playing well.”

The 2019/20 Championship is an inconsistent division in which the unexpected has become expected.

Only West Brom and Leeds United have held any claim to consistency, yet the sides sitting in the top two spots have just one win apiece in their respective last four fixtures.

Liam Cooper believes Leeds can perform to their best once again on Sunday at Birmingham (Pic: Getty)

On Boxing Day, joint-bottom Barnsley held the Baggies to a 1-1 draw and third-from-bottom Luton took a point from the visit to Kenilworth Road of five-placed Fulham.

Stoke, now 21st, were 2-1 down to an unbeaten-in-six Sheffield Wednesday until the 93rd minute and yet the Owls left the bet365 Stadium with nothing – a coupon buster if ever there was one.

Cooper knows that inconsistency is a fact of life, it’s something his head coach has accepted as part and parcel of the division, but even when the Whites don’t play to their very best, digging out results is still possible.

“We are not going to play well every single game,” said the skipper.

“You are going to have these performances through the course of a season but one thing this team doesn’t do is give up.

“We have proved that on many occasions, we will never give up and we will go to the 96th, 97th, 98th minute and that’s fair play to the lads.

“We don’t know when we are beat, we never give up and I think if there was one team going to win that in the second half it was going to be us.

“There is always nervous energy around every stadium at this time of year – we are used to playing with this expectation and pressure and we know what we have got to do. We are a good team who don’t give up and that is the way it will always be.”

Another point in the bag, an eight-point cushion between themselves and third place, three points off the top, Leeds and the promotion race move swiftly on.

Birmingham on Sunday provide the last opposition of 2019, before West Brom on Wednesday in a new year.

There’s plenty to look forward to.

“It has been a good year, but nothing is done in December,” said Cooper.

“We wish it was, but it is not. We know what we have got to do and the standards we set ourselves to be at our best and that is what we have got to do.

“We cannot look back now. We have got to keep looking forward and preparing well and keep performing.”