Leeds United new boys given 21/22 lesson - Graham Smyth's Verdict on traumatic day at Brentford

Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams might have wondered why, as the coach drew up at Brentford Community Stadium, some of their team-mates' gripped the armrests a little tighter.
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One hundred and four days have passed since Jesse Marsch was manhandled by Victor Orta in front of the away end after Premier League status was secured in dramatic, if not traumatic fashion.

Orta, through the medium of characteristically wild gesticulation, demanded recognition from fans for a head coach he had lured into the relegation battle.

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Marsch had got the job done and earned himself a crack at a full pre-season and summer transfer window.

BEES' STING: Leeds United's Diego Llorente, centre, shows his frustration as Brentford are awarded a penalty en route to a 5-2 sinking of the Whites. 
Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images.BEES' STING: Leeds United's Diego Llorente, centre, shows his frustration as Brentford are awarded a penalty en route to a 5-2 sinking of the Whites. 
Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images.
BEES' STING: Leeds United's Diego Llorente, centre, shows his frustration as Brentford are awarded a penalty en route to a 5-2 sinking of the Whites. Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images.

And though the week that preceded this latest trip to Brentford was, thanks to deadline day, far more chaotic than it ever should have been, the Leeds United that rocked up in West London was almost a different club entirely to the one that arrived in May.

The minor skirmishes that broke out this week over the club's striker hunt paled in comparison to the all-out war that threatened to engulf the club between the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa and that fateful finale at Brentford.

How things could have turned out does not bear thinking about.

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England rugby coach Eddie Jones once spoke of unresolved sporting trauma that needed to be dealt with in his camp, fissures in the collective and individual psyches from which in-game tremors emerged later down the line.

The anxiety and stress of Leeds' 2021/22 season was so pronounced that it would be no surprise if it reared its ugly head again at some point, in those who suffered it.

Aaronson, Adams and the summer 2022 cohort had known almost nothing but positive experiences in Leeds colours, though, and nothing remotely like the hellscape in which last season's team had to exist.

Until Brentford, that is. Until a game that more closely resembled something from last season than the bright new Elland Road era.

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The total loss of composure that played right into the hands of Thomas Frank and led to a 5-2 humbling was painfully familiar and an introduction for the new boys to just how rancid the bad days can be in the Premier League.

There was little suggestion of what was to come when a relaxed squad sauntered out onto the pitch pre-game.

Rather it was all smiles as Luke Ayling made his return from knee surgery to join a bench packed with more experience than any in recent memory.

It took little time for a few mistakes to change the tone completely, however.

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The ball was passed straight out of play from kick-off, Diego Llorente had a clearance charged down and captain for the day Robin Koch gave it away dangerously to Mathias Jensen, whose curling effort dipped past the far post.

Adams, sensing an edge to his team's play, appealed for calm, but a pair of free-kicks, given away near the corner flag, invited brief moments of near-post panic.

Leeds did slowly take control, yet the inherent danger with Brentford is the pace and trickery they possess, making them well capable of hurting teams on the break.

Had Koch not arrived to block Keane Lewis-Potter's back post effort, after Bryan Mbeumo skinned Pascal Struijk, it would have been 1-0.

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But the resulting corner led to a scramble in which Luis Sinisterra challenged Ivan Toney, giving VAR something to check and referee Robert Jones something to watch on his monitor.

Leeds' argument that the ambiguity of the challenge took away the 'clear and obvious' element to necessitate VAR's intervention fell on deaf ears as Toney stroked home the spot-kick.

Brentford once more fell into a deep-lying shell, putting a wall of red and white shirts between Leeds and the goal.

The only time they broke through it was with one-touch link-up play between Jack Harrison and Gelhardt that released the latter into the area where he poked wide.

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Seconds later Toney showed that if you can't go through a wall, you just find a way over it, guiding a sublime free-kick into the top corner.

Leeds, again, would contest the decision but there was no arguing with the finish.

Down 2-0 against a side presenting a compact front, the game took on uphill struggle status.

Such games call for difference makers and in Sinisterra, Leeds have one.

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His flick over the head of Rico Henry turned a good position into a dangerous one and no sooner had he brought the ball down than he whistled it past David Raya.

In first half stoppage time, Leeds were back in it, but Marsch wanted something different in the second half and replaced Harrison with Patrick Bamford.

There was almost an instantaneous dividend, Bamford running in behind and shooting just wide, then darting onto Joe Gelhardt's chip through to blaze over.

Marsch was preparing for another swap when a Brentford ball forward was misread by Llorente, Meslier rushed out and only directed the ball to Toney and he stayed calm to dink home number three.

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It was a hat-trick of pure composure, everything Leeds had been missing.

Marsch threw on Klich and Crysencio Summerville, the latter straight into it with a strong penalty appeal that VAR did not believe warranted a viewing from Jones, which proved too much for Marsch. A red

promptly followed but worse was to come.

Nothing said 'day to forget' quite like Bamford sliding in at the back post, with the goal gaping, only to send the ball backwards.

And while Ayling assisted a Roca goal to tease a comeback at 3-2, it was quelled within seconds as Mbeumo went in on Meslier to get the fourth.

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After a week of teeth-gnashing over a striker, the defence then falling apart was pure last season.

Llorente's hapless drag-back attempt provided the assist for Yoane Wissa and Brentford's fifth.

If the new boys didn't know, they do now.

There'll be days like this.

Their number will determine this season's trauma levels.