Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’s 2-1 home defeat against Birmingham City.
Two of the softest goals you are likely to see this season gave Birmingham the sort of early lead they could only have dreamed about and of all the teams to give such a start they are probably one of the best adapted to hang on to it, which they did.
Marcelo Bielsa admitted it was his tactical mistake in playing Kalvin Phillips in his usual role in front of the back four that cost his side the game and it has to be said that once he changed strategy Leeds didn’t again look in much danger, although we still found it hard.
The stats were overwhelmingly in favour of Leeds, so if this had been boxing we’d have won on points but that’s not the way it works and while 71 per cent of possession and 17 attempts is pretty good, turning that into just five shots on target isn’t, and it was just the solitary effort from Gjanni Alioski that we were able to find.
On another day those soft goals would have been stopped and it would have felt very different. A strong performance at Hillsborough is just the tonic to get us over this little setback.
Man of the match: Gjanni Alioski.
It had to happen sometime, a defeat under Marcelo Bielsa, and in the most frustrating of circumstances as well.
The key feature of Saturday’s game, in common with our previous defeat to Preston in the Carabao Cup, was a side that came to Elland Road, managed an early goal and then relied on spoiling the game for the rest of the 90 minutes.
That the referee felt he needed to add on eight minutes of injury time shows the levels of farce we had reached during normal time. Perfectly healthy players constantly on the ground and balls taking an age before re-entering the play.
As ever at Elland Road there’s a good bit of finger pointing in the post match inquest. Should Bailey Peacock-Farrell have done better? Is Gjanni Alioski worthy of his place in the side? There can’t be any hasty conclusions drawn from the game. It’s been accepted that we played badly, even though we came close to getting ourselves back into it. Bounce back at Hillsborough next week and this is nothing more than a blip.
Man of the match: Liam Cooper.
Sometimes there are days when your luck is out, or you just don’t play to the standards you’ve set yourself.
Saturday was the latter, gifting Birmingham two first-half goals was just too much to come back from and the last unbeaten record in the Championship was gone. Despite the defeat, Leeds stay top courtesy of a better goal difference than Middlesbrough.
Marcelo Bielsa and Garry Monk kept unchanged teams from their previous games in midweek, Tyler Roberts hoping to carry on where he left on Tuesday. Monk’s reception on entering the arena was unforgiving as the home fans made it plain what they thought of their ex head coach. If the reception bothered him (it won’t have!) he didn’t show any emotion as he took his position in the away dugout.
The superb performance of Tuesday’s first half against Preston wasn’t repeated as the visitors scored early, Che Adams scoring a goal on eight minutes, before doubling City’s score just before the half hour. Leeds struggled to get into the game as Birmingham showed their defensive strength. Kalvin Phillips was sacrificed as Leeds went to three at the back and brought on Stuart Dallas. Tyler Roberts was closest to getting Leeds back in the game but he just couldn’t turn in a Liam Cooper header from a corner.
With five minutes left Gjanni Alioski scored to give hope to Leeds and in injury time Stuart Dallas was brilliantly denied by Lee Camp.
It will be very interesting to see the reaction of the players after their first defeat in the Championship. Not many covered themselves in glory but substitute Dallas did enough from the bench to suggest he could offer an option in midfield. A bad day at the office, it happens!
Man of the match: Stuart Dallas.
I suppose it had to happen at some point and there was a strange feeling of inevitability about it when Birmingham’s Che Adams whacked in his second goal on 29 minutes.
He had already put City in the lead as early as eight minutes as the Championship’s shot-shy underachievers found themselves 2-0 up away from home for the first time this season since they threw away a similar lead at Forest.
One thing they can usually do well, however is shut up shop and this they did with frustrating regularity.
It was only in the final stages of the game that United posed any real counter attacking threat and even with eight minutes added on for outrageous time wasting, the Whites couldn’t add to Gjanni Alioski’s 85th-minute strike.
There are a couple of consolations: our first defeat is out of the way and we are still top of the league.
It was not a good day at the office and it will be interesting to see how they come out of the traps against Sheffield Wednesday.
Man of the match: Tyler Roberts.
We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.
There is no script. No guarantee.
Our emotional investment may well yield no return. Though, my friends, though our weekends were ruined, as together we march on, we take disappointment in our stride: for, we know, we march together.
Fortitude and resilience are the marks of champions as much as panache and chest-swelling victory.
The boxer must take a punch. The long distance runner, ‘the wall’.
So, let us gather ourselves. Let us save our laughter until the end.
Our loins girded, our sinews stiffened, our hamstrings loosened, we march to Sheffield, heads held high, beaten but unbowed for we are Leeds.
We are the champions and NOW you are going to believe us.
Man of the match: Not applicable.
Well, it’s a first defeat and no-one can really say it wasn’t deserved.
Birmingham came out of the traps quickly, and as Preston proved in the Carabao Cup, it’s one way to win against Leeds.
Okay, so the two goals might both have wrong-footed a young Bailey Peacock-Farrell, but every player will have bad days at the office this season.
The strong individual performances that Marcelo Bielsa has demanded this season weren’t quite there on Saturday, but one of his strengths is identifying problems and rectifying them quickly. Samuel Saiz looked his usual self, serving as Leeds’ beating heart, but they lacked the outlet up front that could have hurt Birmingham.
In truth there wasn’t too much wrong, Birmingham just looked extremely sharp and their game plan of simply trying to frustrate Leeds work wonders.
But Bielsa will have seen this many many times before in his long career. Is it a worry that the Blues made it look relatively easy? Definitely not, Bielsa will view it as an opportunity.
Man of the match: Samuel Saiz.