Leeds United were disrespected in the media during slump and hurt by form, but it was a 'kick up the back side'

Leeds United were disrespected in the press during their mid-season slump in form, but it was the results that stung the players the most says Stuart Dallas.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 4:53 pm

The Ulsterman, called up today by Northern Ireland for this month's Euro2020 play-off semi-final against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and his Leeds team-mates have roared back to winning ways since their impressive performance in a 1-1 draw at Brentford, taking all 15 points on offer since the visit to Griffin Park.

In the lead-up to the promotion clash with the Bees, Leeds were beaten 2-0 by Nottingham Forest and head coach Marcelo Bielsa said he had picked up on a sense of doubt around the team.

Amid media scrutiny of what was going wrong for the Whites, Brentford boss Thomas Frank suggested Bielsa’s men would fear the trip to London.

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Even if was said and written about Leeds was noted in the dressing room, it did not give rise to any doubt among the players, Dallas insists. But he admits the form itself was painful.

“After Forest, we went to Brentford and a lot of things were said about us in the press – disrespectful towards us maybe – and, as a group of players, we stuck together and continued to believe in what we were doing,” he said.

“Thankfully, we have come out and put a good run together.

“We know there was stuff said. That didn’t hurt, but our form hurt us to be losing the points we were. That showed we care.

Stuart Dallas, left, says Leeds United were disrespected by some things said and written during their slump, but only the results hurt the players (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

“We regrouped and went again and have put a run together now.”

That run has taken Leeds back to the top of the Championship, a point ahead of second-placed West Brom and seven clear of Fulham in third.

Dallas says the dip in form was to be expected at some stage but it helped spur Leeds on again ahead of the promotion run-in.

And while five wins in a row is the perfect response to any form of slump, the Whites, who have already put together a seven-game winning streak this season, have always felt confident in their ability.

“You could be in a better position, you could be further away, but we are happy where we are,” he said.

“It is a great run.

“But we knew within the group how good we were and are.

“There is no team that can go the whole season without having a dip in form. We have had that dip in form and lost the points that we were ahead. It was probably a kick up the backside that we needed.”

Next up for Leeds is Sunday’s trip to Cardiff City, a side eyeing a play-off place, a side who inflicted serious anguish on United by coming back from three goals down at Elland Road to draw 3-3 in December.

It’s a big game for both sides, says Dallas, and highlights his belief that Leeds’ so-called easier run-in – with only one remaining fixture against a top-seven side – is a myth.

“We go to Cardiff next week and if they win, they are in the play-offs,” he said.

“It’s massive.

“People talk about a favourable run of fixtures we have had, but I don’t buy that.”