Of the three defeats suffered by Leeds United this season, Thomas Christiansen was unequivocal in ranking their performance at Sheffield Wednesday as the worst. “It’s a defeat that hurts a lot,” he said, “because of the way it happened.”
Christiansen saw his team and his tactics “disappear” after 20 minutes of a 3-0 loss at Hillsborough but the United head coach does not think their abject display is one he will have to experience again.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I believe it won’t happen again but we do have to take it as a lesson.
“It’s the toughest defeat I’ve had. Okay, we lost against Millwall and we lost against Cardiff but the way we lost against Sheffield Wednesday was, for me, the worst. But the players are intelligent and they recognise their mistakes, as well as I have to recognise my mistakes.”
In general, Christiansen has much to be pleased about. His team were top of the Championship midway through last month and still have control of a play-off place. Three defeats from 11 is a respectable record but speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Reading at Elland Road, Christiansen was honest about the implications of those losses coming in the space of four matches.
“This is football,” he said. “You cannot always be at the highest level. I believe that all the good things we did before we can do again and I’m happy for what I’ve seen until now but of course, with the last games I cannot be happy at all.
“This is what I’ve said to the players. The things we have to change, we’ve analysed that, we’ve told them that and we’ve worked on that.
“I expect to have a good result on Saturday.”
Reading, last season’s beaten play-off finalists, are themselves under scrutiny after losing ground early on this season, taking two wins from 10 games and a total of nine points.
The club’s manager, Jaap Stam, suggested earlier this week that Leeds would be under pressure tomorrow, saying: “There is pressure on them to win because they’ve just lost two games in a row.
“But they are doing okay and it will be an interesting afternoon.”
Christiansen, however, said: “I don’t think there’s major pressure on the game. We’ll take it as another game and the players will be ready for it.
“In this league there’s no lower team or higher team. From last season I know how good Reading were. This season they haven’t had the results but they’re a good team, a playing team who will cause a lot of trouble if we don’t do things right.”
Leeds’ outing at Hillsborough was riddled with defensive errors and Christiansen admitted the standard of it had come as a surprise.
“It was in the sense that we knew the danger in the game,” he said. “We knew how to stop them and we did it for 20, 25 minutes by playing well and creating opportunities. After we conceded, the team disappeared.
“In offence, we know what we are able to do but we also need a compromise in defence.”