Leeds United lose but are not disgraced by champions-elect Newcastle - Whelan

Leeds United players Marcus Antonsson, Souleymane Doukara, Hadi Sacko and Kemar Roofe wearing T-shirts in memory of Gary Speed.
Leeds United players Marcus Antonsson, Souleymane Doukara, Hadi Sacko and Kemar Roofe wearing T-shirts in memory of Gary Speed.
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I DON’T THINK we were at our best against Newcastle United yesterday.

We were a little bit sloppy with our passing and our final ball into the box.

But you know you are up against a quality side in Newcastle when you see the strength in depth they have and the players that are in the starting XI.

Jonjo Shelvey typified them – he controlled the game – and he is a very experienced player who has been at some great clubs.

On days like these at Elland Road, with the full crowd behind you, you want to come away with something but it wasn’t to be and this is why the Magpies are sitting top of the league.

With a bit more luck, we could have been a bit more in the game but a mistake has allowed them put a little bit of light between us at half-time.

But while Newcastle had a lot of possession during the game, they weren’t really hurting us.

Overall, in the 90 minutes, when I look back at the game, their keeper has had more to do than Rob Green so it shows that we can compete with these teams.

I don’t need to say too much about the first goal we conceded – Green knows he’s made a mistake – and Dwight Gayle probably won’t score an easier goal in his career.

We still had a go at them but I just felt we were that half a yard short.

But we can still have a play-offs push here. After all, we are still seventh with bottom side Rotherham United to play next on Saturday.

At the beginning of the season we’d have gone past this game and said ‘let’s leave this one alone and if we get something out of it, it’s a bonus’.

We are one point off the play-offs so what we’ve got to do now is learn from it which I think a lot of the young boys will do when they are playing against the likes of Jack Colback and Shelvey who are extremely good players.

They will learn from that and this is a learning process.

But we were competing all the way through 90 minutes – we had some good spells in the game and maybe a little bit of luck with the penalty decision may have changed it and swung it back in our favour.

It wasn’t to be, but it shows that we are not getting outclassed by any teams and we can compete with most teams, especially a Newcastle side that is sitting top of the league and will probably romp to the Championship title to be honest. From what I have seen, they are different class.

But there was an electric atmosphere at Elland Road yesterday with the capacity crowd and it was great to have a full house again.

It was an emotional day in lots of ways but Leeds are healthy, they are in a great position and they have got this Rotherham game coming up in what is going to be a tough month without any shadow of a doubt.

But I feel confident that we are in a really good position and we are in a good state at the club at the minute.

The tribute to Gary Speed was also great to see.

Everyone misses him and he was a great servant not just to Leeds and Newcastle but every club he played at. And more than that he was just a gentleman and he had a smile that could light up any place.

He is sorely missed by everybody and it was a great tribute by all the fans to his family.

I was just fortunate that I knew him and that I managed to play with him.

We miss him.