Leeds United 1 Birmingham City 2: YEP Jury verdicts

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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 2-1 home defeat to Birmingham City.

DAVID WATKINS

Luke Ayling is challenged in the box by Jonathan Grounds.

Luke Ayling is challenged in the box by Jonathan Grounds.

Judging by Garry Monk’s heartfelt post-match press conference, I believe he knows what the problem is; having seen his young side put in another lame second-half performance against nothing more than a workmanlike Birmingham City.

We are “soft”; Monk used the word time and time again and I reckon he’s right. Throughout last season we gave away soft, unnecessary goals and failed to show the heart and battling spirit fundamental to teams aspiring to get out of the Championship or indeed do well at any level.

Burnley are a great example; they positively exude Sean Dyche’s never-say-die attitude. As Monk went on to say: we all know we have a young side, but they need to learn fast what is required of them; they need to man up.

With Monk, CEO Ben Mansford, Sol Bamba and Kyle Bartley all telling us in their respective programme notes how we need to make Elland Road a fortress and how players and fans must battle together, it really seemed like it was happening for 14 minutes.

Leeds tore into Birmingham and the crowd roared them on and it finally seemed like we’d clicked. But then, out of nothing our soft underbelly was revealed. Gleeson ran from deep with three Leeds players tracking him, slotted the ball neatly between a static Bamba and Bartley for Maghoma to run onto and Taylor, Green and Maghoma contrived to allow the ball to ricochet into the net. Last season it would have been Silvestri and Bellusci or maybe Wootton; it was all just too familiar.

Leeds battled back well initially and Sacko wacked the ball in off Kuszczak to make it 1-1 and at half-time all seemed well, albeit accepting our defence is nowhere near fit for purpose.

The second half though saw a weak and unacceptable display; our players are better than that but it looked like boys against men as Blues lofted the ball into the area for the winning goal.

Plenty of defenders were on hand but none took charge and while we dallied, Morrison pounced. Debutant Luke Ayling looks like part of the answer to our powder puff defence but we need more and we need it quick. Oh, and a few hours of shooting practice wouldn’t go amiss either!

Man of the match: Luke Ayling.

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KEITH INGHAM

Leeds suffered back-to-back defeats to start Garry Monk’s tenure in not the best way, sloppy defending again the root cause of the 2-1 defeat. Leeds need to rectify this very quickly or a long season faces the long suffering fans.

Monk made four changes to the team that started at Fleetwood. In came new signing Luke Ayling, Sol Bamba, Alex Mowatt and Marcus Antonnson. Birmingham played ‘smash and grab’ to claim the victory, first in the 15 minutes after an Alex Mowatt shot was blocked they brought the ball forward on the break for Maghoma to score. Leeds then had a better spell which ended with Hadi Sacko scoring from the narrowest of angles. With Alex Mowatt and Sacko playing impressively they should have been in front at the break.

Like a few games in the previous season they could not keep their efforts and performance going and it was no surprise when poor defending at a corner gave Morrison plenty of room to score the second goal for Birmingham City. For all the ‘huff and puff’ Leeds mustered they could not get the equaliser.

It’s very early to judge Monk but he needs to pick his first eleven and stick with them. Never mind another midfielder, it’s a centre-back we need and very quickly.

Man of the match: Alex Mowatt first half, second half nobody.

STEPHEN CLARK

Garry Monk is just the latest manager to talk about turning Elland Road into a fortress, but before that can happen Leeds United’s home ground has to be cleansed of its poisonous atmosphere.

At times in the first half on Saturday the old ground was rocking. It doesn’t take the stadium to be full for there to be a great noise, and when Leeds looked bright and lively in that opening period, it was a great place to be.

It’s when things aren’t going right that there a million other places I would rather be on a Saturday afternoon. When every mistake is greeted by an expletive fuelled rant, when we are ironically cheering players who do things right, and when we are loudly celebrating players being taken off, then it is understandable why the players look like rabbits in the headlights. The booing of any player is not going to do them any good but the treatment of some fans to Ronaldo Vieira, an 18 year old playing his third full game, was unacceptable.

Those who have been critical of people demonstrating against the ownership for being divisive and chanting the mantra of “Get behind the team” need to take a long hard look at our home support. For long periods on Saturday afternoon, we didn’t do that.

Man of the match: Marcus Antonsson.

GARY NEWBOULD

United slipped to their second consecutive league defeat on Saturday afternoon at Elland Road.

After an early concession, The Whites restored parity courtesy of Hadi Sacko and went on the produce an accomplished first-half display and looked set to take the three points. However in the second half the all-too-familiar defensive frailties and lack of mental toughness came to the fore, leading to another thoroughly miserable afternoon for in excess of 27,000 loyal hordes.

So three games played, seven goals conceded and the natives already growing restless. Welcome to the real world of Leeds United, Garry Monk.

Man of the match: Alex Mowatt.

MIKE GILL

Warm but cloudy day. Decent crowd. No negative chanting. Loads of noise, bright start. Concede a goal against the run of play but deservedly get level before half-time. What could possibly wrong? Answer: A lot. Defensive frailties. Especially Bamba. In midfield, Vieira is so promising but needs a season on loan somewhere. After Wednesday’s impressive performance against Fleetwood, Hernandez struggled against better quality opposition. Mowatt started well but tired, long before he was substituted.

Bright spots: Ayling was sound in defence and ‎strong going forward. Sacko + Antonsson.

Leeds badly need a positive result against Fulham or we all know what’s likely to happen before very long don’t we?

Man of the match: Luke Ayling.

MATTHEW EVANS

It’s far too early to press self destruct, as much as it has become customary at Elland Road these days.

Our first-half performance showed the way and it will surely be Garry Monk’s priority to translate that glimmer of hope into consistent, 90-minute display. Birmingham had us sussed after half-time, Monk sounded rattled at full time and the United players have been booed in all of our first three games this season. It will do us no favours to kill the little confidence there is in the team or to hound yet another manager out of the club. We will do better against Fulham tomorrow night with the team getting fitter all the time and Monk’s signings bedding in slowly but surely.

Man of the match: Luke Ayling.

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