Positives for Birmingham boss Pep Clotet in 'special' Elland Road homecoming against Leeds United

Birmingham boss Pep Clotet (Pic: Getty)Birmingham boss Pep Clotet (Pic: Getty)
Birmingham boss Pep Clotet (Pic: Getty) | Getty
It wasn't just a special afternoon for Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday.

Pep Clotet, Birmingham City's head coach, returned to the ground where he worked as part of Garry Monk's backroom team in the 2016/17 season.

He was unable to mastermind a victory over his former club, the Blues suffering a 1-0 defeat in a game that marked Leeds United's centenary.

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Amid the celebrations of the Whites' history and achievements, Clotet experienced somewhat of a homecoming.

"I felt comfortable because for me it was like coming back home," he said after the game, won by a 65th minute Kalvin Phillips goal.

"It changed nothing when it comes to preparation, when it comes to setting the team up and it meant nothing to me in the game, then I was always wanting to win, but it's very special for me to come back here.

"As well as Birmingham I have a lot of esteem for this club and this city."

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Clotet was satisfied that there were plenty of positives to take back to the Midlands, despite the result not going the way he would have liked.

Although the Blues were under the cosh for the majority of the first half, they came out and had a go at Leeds in the second half and Clotet intimated that he would have found a draw to be a fair result.

"I think one more shot on target from them, but it was very even in numbers," he said.

"The [Leeds] team has been playing very good for a year and a half now, ahead of us in the way we want to play.

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"We had two options, sit and defend our box or go on the attack. That is the way I am. My players too. Unfortunately we could not link a very good performance with a good result.

"I saw a lot of positive points that we take for ourselves.

"We know where we are in the league, we had the best start in 11 years. The club asked us to turn our football into possession based attacking with high intensity, high pressing. I thought I would like to achieve that in this season. Now we see a different Birmingham. In this kind of football we try to win a game but it goes to them. We took our football to Leeds and we're proud of that decision."

The winner came when Phillips pressed high up the pitch and helped Jack Harrison win the ball back from Birmingham, the duo combining again on the edge of the area before Phillips beat Lee Camp with a low shot.

That ability to go from defence to attack so quickly in that particular instance was the difference between the sides, according to Clotet.

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"Leeds are very strong in one department. We win the ball back, that transition from defending to attack, that is the most critical thing you need to do very well against Leeds. They have the ball and they lose it, their defensive transition is very good. It's very easy to put a lot of pressure on the man with the ball and they do it with a lot of intensity.

"We were fluent when we won the ball back, we managed to link up well, apart from that. It's one mistake, out of all the balls we recovered. It's unfair to punish the team for that. But obviously that cost us the result. That margin made a huge impact in the game."