Leeds United structural change could free up £30m man as Whites 'fragile' mindset is challenged
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Where on earth do you start?
Monday night didn’t actually get off to the worst start. Clearly we didn't want to press too high up the pitch when they had good control, we got back into our positions and although they were very good on the ball a lot of it was in front of us to start with so it wasn't too much of a problem. We managed to nick it a couple of times, got behind the defence and made half chances, like the Rodrigo glancing header from Jack Harrison's free-kick. At that stage they weren't really testing us too much but as the half went on we needed to make sure that when we got the ball we could actually use it and pass through them, but their high press caused us more and more problems. We got pushed back further and further and eventually the breakthrough happened. We were so set up to make sure we got into the right position that at times we didn't remember to actually engage. Was that because Liverpool were so good in possession or could we have done a little bit more? We were comfortable for a while but it always looked like it might eventually be coming.
Of course it did come, with added controversy. The VAR decision obviously went against us but the more general point is that anything we do in our own half slightly wrong is punished and at the other end it's not working because we have to score a really good goal or create five or six chances to score. Liverpool, by comparison, were electric on the counter, they were sublime and carved us open time and time again, adding that ruthless finishing.
Just like that Crystal Palace second half it is a hard one to explain. Clearly the lads are suffering. I think it's important that now is the time for unity and we all need to stick together and understand where we are, what we need to improve on but also,we need to dig deeper and show fight belief. It's hard when you are conceding goals, it's extremely hard but one thing certainly shouldn't be missing and that's absolute commitment. Mentally our boys are struggling every time they suffer another blow, another goal against. It makes things that much more difficult. Liverpool were electric on the counter, they were sublime and carved us open time and time again.
When you concede 11 in a couple of games clearly there is some problem somewhere and he's the manager. From what we've seen so far he has a cool, calm and collected head and he's going to need all of that. His experience has got to come to the fore and this has to be turned around. As much as those were extremely bad results, we're above the relegation zone and we've got Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth - games where we can and need to get points. This is where the manager earns his corn. He will have to get the boys' mindset correct. It's a little fragile right now and of course losing like that to Liverpool after that Palace defeat makes things that much more difficult.
You look at the wide men, they can swap in and out and that leaves the structure of the team the same but looking at the end of the Liverpool game he brought Adam Forshaw in to make a three in the middle because we were over-run in there. With a little more help it might give us a more secure look and free Weston McKennie to play more of his natural game, going box to box and getting forward.
All these attacking players we've got, when we're playing well and we have the ball, are a real problem for the opposition but sometimes out of possession we need to be stronger when we lose the ball high up the pitch. That's where we came unstuck too often against Liverpool. Maybe an extra body in midfield will be an option he'll look at. He'll be looking at all sorts of things, not least who is fit and who is not. It was good to see Max Wober back on the bench, let's see if he's fit enough to come back in. I think rather than speaking of particular players or formations, I really do think it's more of a mindset and the group saying let's get this together, do it correctly and give it everything to show what we're about. In the last two games they haven't done that and the result has been Elland Road emptying before full-time.
The players would have felt hugely disappointed as fans were leaving in droves. When you have a defeat like that Palace one it's always nice to get back out onto the pitch to try and put it right, but then suddenly you've suffered another just as bad. They're only human and those two beatings will take a little bit of recovering. They will be hurting. You can see towards the end of the game they're not wanting the ball as much as they would at the start of the game, they're not making the same runs, which is natural, and then Liverpool are bringing on four players at once who are all internationals. It was hard to watch so it will have been hard to experience as a player. They need to lick their wounds quickly, though, learn from it and move on because the focus really has to be Fulham. Everyone, including the players, will be looking for a far better performance, demanding that because we need something from the game.