Leeds United: New term, same old problems – Gray

Leeds United's Nicky Ajose and Scott Malone of Millwall. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United's Nicky Ajose and Scott Malone of Millwall. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Saturday’s PERFORMANCE at Millwall was disappointing and for the first 45 minutes we never really competed. They dominated the game.

We were a little bit better in the second half and we had chances but we never took them and those chances weren’t really through our making – it was more that Millwall made a couple of errors.

But overall you look at the game and you have to say that the best team won over the 90 minutes.

We’ve said before that there’s a lot of work to be done and we’ve got to try and get some progress. But it was just disappointing on Saturday and Millwall played more controlled football than we did.

Things changed a little bit when we brought Matt Smith on and we just started knocking balls up to him. We got a little bit of joy out of that. But before that the front three boys – Doukara, Ajose and Noel Hunt – they never really got the ball because they just weren’t in the game enough.

The old problems were still there – disappointingly conceding goals, and we didn’t look secure at the set plays again which was disappointing.

The first goal was a poor goal from a defensive point of view and the second goal was a penalty kick obviously.

And Millwall should have had another penalty kick for sure as they had a stone wall penalty turned down quite early on in the second half. If they had scored then it could have been worse but we hung on and it was a saving grace that at half-time we only went in 1-0 down. You still had a little bit of hope at half-time though it never really materialised and it was a bit huff and puff I think.

There’s a lot of work to be done, on the training pitch and off the training pitch from the point of view that I still think we need to recruit players if we’re going to be successful.

The only thing I would say in their defence on Saturday is that two players who were prominent in pre-season – Bianchi and Morison – never played. You can take something out of that but there’s got to be a big improvement for the games coming up and I’m talking about the league games.

You would imagine we would get comfortably through the League Cup tie against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday though no football game is easy.

But we are playing at home and you think you should win it. But then you’ve got a couple of tough league games starting off against Middlesbrough who started well on Saturday and then you’ve got Brighton. It’s going to be tough.

It’s a new era at the football club and I think people might have to be patient for a while but the quicker we get things sorted out the better.

I think it’s a bit unfair if people are already wanting rid of David Hockaday and when you look at the tradition of us going to Millwall that’s us having lost seven out of eight. It’s not as if it’s a happy hunting ground for us. Obviously, if you’re not successful, the longer that goes on, as a manager or coach, you’re going to be under pressure.

You’re always concerned when things don’t go well but it’s only the first game of the season and you can’t start panicking right away after the first game, especially as Millwall is traditionally a poor place for us to go. That’s not just Saturday and the new president and David Hockaday, that’s been over the years and it’s been a tough place for us to go regardless of who’s been in charge.

I wouldn’t read too much into Saturday’s game but I will stress that things have got to improve and I think we need new blood in there. We don’t look secure at the back and in the midfield we never really created anything on Saturday.

Consequently the front boys never got the chance to shine.

There’s also reports that Sam Byram has made his mind up that the wants to leave though I don’t know how true those reports are.

But everyone has got their price in football and if players want to go it’s hard to keep them.

You just hope that players like Byram stay at the football club but the club have a right-back anyway in Berardi.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens but you just hope the club keeps its best players.

Leeds head coach Paul Heckingbottom

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