THOMAS CHRISTIANSEN blamed a failure to take chances for Leeds United’s form and stressed again that he saw no fundamental flaws in his line-up or tactics after five defeats in seven league games.
Christiansen claimed the poor results hindering his side could be rectified by “scoring the first goal” as he and Leeds looked to hold onto their place in the Championship’s play-off zone at home to Derby County tonight.
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The club were at risk of falling beneath the top six over the weekend after a 2-1 loss to Sheffield United on Friday but held onto fifth position despite the scoreline.
Sheffield United struck after two minutes through Billy Sharp and claimed their victory nine minutes from time through a sweetly-taken finish from youngster David Brooks.
Leeds struggled in long periods of the game but watched Samuel Saiz strike a post and Gjanni Alioski fail to convert a close-range header with an eventful derby level at 1-1 in the second half.
Christiansen side have won every league game after scoring the opening goal this season and lost every game in which they conceded first.
United’s head coach, however, has faced questions about his formation and tactical approach following a pronounced dip in results since the club led the Championship last month.
The 44-year-old responded to a query about what needed to change to muster more consistent form by saying: “Score the first goal.” He insisted the solution could be as simple as that, claiming: “For me, yes.
“If you look back at the games we lost where we had the possibility to (take the lead), if we’d managed to do that it would have changed. Against Reading we had that possibility and we lost. In the last game we had the same situation with the post and the header from (Gjanni) Alioski. It could have been a win.
If you look back at the games we lost where we had the possibility to (take the lead), if we’d managed to do that it would have changedThomas Christiansen
“The most important thing is to score. That’s the difference, not the style. I don’t believe we have a big issue with that.”
Christiansen was highly critical of his players’ concentration against Sheffield United but painted a more positive picture yesterday, ahead of their meeting with a Derby side who have climbed to seventh after six games without defeat.
“We come from a defeat which is never nice but we know the situation and we’re still in a play-off position,” Christiansen said. “It’s a situation which we all would have signed up to. From that point of view I’m not worried. The players know what to do.
“I feel good and I like the pressure. It doesn’t change. If the demand is to win all the games, I like that pressure. If it’s to win a game because we’ve lost a few, it’s the same for me. The thing is the players have to be ready for that.
“The players are confident because they have my confidence. If they didn’t have it then for sure they would have a little bit more pressure. But they’re professional and they know that this is the business. Some days you are up and sometimes you are down. When you are down you have to stick together more.”
Christiansen, meanwhile, said analysis of United’s league position and their ability to qualify for the play-offs should wait until the latter stages of the season.
Leeds have held a top-six place for all but a week of the term and led the field after seven games.
Christiansen said: “(Tonight) it will be game 15. There are still a lot of games to come.
“There’s the possibility we could be out of the top six but the response we have to give is to be in it at the end of the season. If we are not in it at the end of the season then we can speak about things. Until then, let the players do their work and for sure it will be a good season.
“Derby will be another tough game but it doesn’t matter who we play against. We want to win and do our best. After defeat the next game is always the most important - a final for us.”