Leeds United: Reliable Bamba forgiven but poor Bellusci must be dropped - Whelan

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POOR defending let us down at Middlesbrough yesterday.

Individual errors and performances in crucial parts of the game have cost us and if you defend like that you are going to get punished.

MIS-MATCH: Middlesbrough's David Nugent battles with Leeds United's Giuseppe Bellusci battle for the Picture by Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

MIS-MATCH: Middlesbrough's David Nugent battles with Leeds United's Giuseppe Bellusci battle for the Picture by Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

It’s the way we’ve lost the game that hurts and the goals that we actually gifted them. They didn’t have to work hard for any of the three goals and it was just poor defending.

My view is that if Liam Cooper is fit enough to be on the bench then he’s fit enough to play the game.


Putting Giuseppe Bellusci in is a liability, especially in such a big game where you need maximum concentration and people who can defend properly. I believe he’s a poor defender. His distribution was poor, his concentration was poor, his passing and his marking was poor from corners and I can’t defend that because it’s all there to be seen. He’s been given his chance and he’s not taken it.

I can’t see how you can play him after a performance like that next week against Birmingham. There’s got to be a change and that performance was just pathetic in my eyes.

Overall, we played some good football in the first half but we’re still not creating enough chances in my eyes. Some of the football we played was actually better than against MK Dons but we were up against a different kettle of fish in Middlesbrough. They have got Premiership players in there that they brought in the summer. I felt David Nugent led the line well, he worked hard and held the ball up but he didn’t have to work too hard for his goal obviously. Once again, that was a defensive mix-up and they capitalised on a gift that we gave them.

The second goal was just poor defending on Bellusci’s part and why do you have to dive in there with your head? If you get yourself back into position by another couple of yards you wouldn’t have to stretch for it. Or go with your right foot and clear it into the stands. It was just poor decision making, poor defending and then some of his ball distribution and marking was not just up to scratch.

Sol Bamba’s mistake wasn’t great either and, for me, if you are a defender, defend, simple as that. Don’t start taking chances by passing balls in and around your box - it’s just suicidal and that was proved.

I’m sure Bamba will be beating himself up and he’ll be bitterly disappointed with his mistake because he is very passionate about his performances, you can see that. He has a go at himself if he gives a bad pass or he makes a mistake so this will be really hurting. We can forgive him for that, he doesn’t make too mistakes and think of the amount of times he’s actually bailed us out of trouble with his defensive work and covering around. Every now and again mistakes happen. Jordan Botaka made his debut and I thought he had a steady game. I don’t think he set the world alight but it’s his first game in English football. Now he has had a little taster of it and it’s completely different to an under-21 game where you can do your tricks. You don’t have much time on the ball.

But I felt he linked up quite well with the midfield and while he didn’t go past people too many times on a one on one, it was a difficult debut and I thought he held his own. He did quite well and it was nice to see him out there on the pitch.

Obviously our defeat was our own making, masters of our own downfall we were with the goals they scored. But there’s always a decisive moment in every game and why Mirco Antenucci’s goal was overruled by the referee when the linesman didn’t even put his flag up is a terrible decision.

That could have changed the direction and course of the game. We know how fragile a 2-0 lead is and it’s about who gets the next goal.

If Leeds United get it who knows what could have happened?

But hindsight is a great thing and if we don’t do the basics of our jobs right then we can’t go on and win these sort of games.