Leeds United defeat at Crawley Town embarrassing, Covid-19 threatening to make farce of season, Brighton game huge - Dominic Matteo

CUP SHOCK - Leeds United's FA Cup exit at the hands of Crawley Town was the worst result in the competition since the 1970s says ex Whites defender Dominic Matteo. Pic: GettyCUP SHOCK - Leeds United's FA Cup exit at the hands of Crawley Town was the worst result in the competition since the 1970s says ex Whites defender Dominic Matteo. Pic: Getty
CUP SHOCK - Leeds United's FA Cup exit at the hands of Crawley Town was the worst result in the competition since the 1970s says ex Whites defender Dominic Matteo. Pic: Getty
Baffling. Confusing. Disappointing. To be brutally honest, the FA Cup defeat at Crawley was a bit embarrassing.

I know we’ve had those results before, looking back to Sutton, Newport and Histon and even going back to 2003 and the Sheffield United result.

When you see a Premier League team who are going in the right direction get a result like that, you’re not quite ready for it.

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I watched it abroad with some fans and everyone was in shock, wondering what on earth was happening and why it was happening again. I’m still a little shocked now because it wasn’t just an under-par performance by the lads, there were decisions taken that I found hard to understand.

Playing Jack Harrison up top was the wrong decision, then you had Sam Greenwood behind him and I felt Kalvin Phillips should have been in his normal position too.

It’s very unusual for me to criticise someone like Marcelo Bielsa but I think he knows himself he got it very wrong.

I didn’t really know what to take from it; Leeds were all over the place.

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Players have played a lot of games but I don’t like to see too many changes.

You’ve got to play your reliable players, players from whom you know what you’re going to get against that tough, physical opposition, players like Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling.

Leeds just didn’t turn up.

I know it’s not the most important thing this season, the FA Cup, but that’s probably the worst result in the competition since the 1971 defeat to Fourth Division Colchester.

That said, we can’t take anything away from Crawley; they were absolutely outstanding, brilliant from start to finish all over the park with a better gameplan than ours.

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Everything I expected that game to require, they did it and did it well. A lot of it was basics and doing them properly.

For some reason we seem to struggle against ‘lesser’ opposition and I don’t know what that reason is but Crawley were the better team.

It feels a little bit like every time we try and get a bit of momentum, there’s a bad result or two to take us off our stride but that might just be the type of season it will be.

There are noises about having to stop the season or taking a break at least but, personally, I hope it doesn’t have to stop because everyone would suffer from another suspension.

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All the cases of Covid have to be taken seriously and I understand why people believe it would be right to halt things.

When the decision is taken, the health and safety of players and their families has to be taken into account; we have got to a point where there are positive tests at teams all over the country and games are being postponed at all levels.

The 2020/21 season was already bonkers, so difficult to predict with top teams losing games you would never expect them to and, when clubs are having to field weakened teams, it threatens to descend into farce.

Even if we carrie on, however, right now we feel so far away from getting fans back into grounds and it’s difficult for clubs who are built on their fanbases.

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Leeds want to be coming up against these top teams but they want to be doing it in front of their supporters and it’s just so disappointing that the season has to be played out this way, their first season back in the top flight.

I want to see Leeds play in the Premier League and I’m gutted not being able to go and watch a game anywhere, but it’s more disappointing for the fans; they’re the ones the game needs.

Leeds need their fans more than most because we know the impact they can have in tight games but, looking at the table, with 23 points on board and a game against Brighton coming up, we’re looking pretty secure and the chance to watch Premier League football will finally be on offer next season at some stage.

Three points in this game would be huge for Leeds, although Brighton are no pushovers.

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The table doesn’t tell the full story about them or their style – they’re not a bad side, they’ve had a lot of games where they have played well and not got results.

Leeds have to pick themselves up again. The line-up will be back to something closer to normal, even though Kalvin Phillips is out suspended.

With Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling at centre-half and Pascal Struijk in front of them we should have a solid-enough look defensively.

Cooper’s return is important; Leeds need him to be a voice out there and these are the type of games you need your leaders to stand up and be counted.

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It’s a game where Leeds need to make better decisions, especially defensively, and that’s up to everyone on the pitch, not just Cooper and not just the backline.

It will be an interesting game, a tough one but it’s one Leeds can definitely approach knowing they can get a result.