Southampton 0-1 Leeds United - good day for youngster, written-off veteran and Norwegian visitors, bad day for big name and Marcelo Bielsa

Picking positives out of Leeds United's 1-0 defeat at Southampton is as easy as picking a pass through the Saints midfield but it's just about possible.

Sunday, 17th October 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Monday, 18th October 2021, 2:44 pm

It was as bad a performance as anyone can remember from Marcelo Bielsa's 150 games in charge and while the absence of key men didn't help, players capable of much better let themselves down.

Here's the YEP take on a dismal day in the sunshine on the south coast.

Good day

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Joe Gelhardt

Any Premier League debut is special, even one that comes with little time left in a painful game. Gelhardt is a special talent and this could be the first of many senior appearances. He looked, at times, like a teenage debutant in a man's game, struggling to stop Saints' defenders from bursting forward, but he was hungry for the ball and did not hide away. His Under 23s performances and goals and England Under 21 recognition had already made it a fine start to the season but a first team breakthrough will mean the most to him.

Adam Forshaw

Every time he's had a set-back in his recovery from the hip problem and on his road back to first team football, the reaction has often ignored the human being at the centre of the disappointment. He has been written off on numerous occasions but never given up hope and never stopped working. To get back and play in the Premier League was another victory for Forshaw.

DAY OUT - Three thousand Leeds United supporters made the long trip to Southampton determined to enjoy themselves despite the awful performance and 1-0 defeat. Pic: Getty

Leeds fans

Three thousand descended on Southampton determined to enjoy themselves from start to finish. A small group encountered early delight discovering at a bus stop the Saints fan who went viral for his in-stadium raving to The Prodigy. Even after the performance and the result, the Leeds supporters were loud and boisterous. The train journey back up north was, somehow, not a sombre one and the songs continued for hours. The look on the face of a pair of young centre-half Leo Hjelde's visiting Norwegian pals as they sat surrounded by Whites from Southampton Central to Birmingham New Street was priceless. One Leeds fan sitting behind them sang 'Oh Raphinha, he plays for Brazil, he's better than Bruno Fernandes' to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel's Cecliia for the vast majority of the journey, with variations that became more and more surreal as the hours passed. His companion produced a picture of Stuart Dallas from his wallet at one stage. There was a baffling conversation with a third Leeds fan that required subtitles, alcohol introducing a language barrier despite all parties speaking perfect English. An introduction to a subculture. Football did not entirely ruin a day out at the football.

Bad day

Rodrigo

Leeds United need so much more from him and he's capable of so much more. Forget the price Leeds paid and look at his pedigree. This is an experienced, high quality player with considerable intelligence and skill. The service to him was dire but he didn't make anything happen. Big players need to do that, they hunt the ball, demand it and do something with it. He didn't at St Mary's.

Marcelo Bielsa

Deprived of key players and not given the performances he needed from so many players, the frustration must have been huge. But the squad is small by his preference and while he was able to get Leeds playing a little better in the second half, he could not mastermind the performance or result Leeds needed in his 150th game.

Number of the day

Alex McCarthy will likely have no easier afternoons all season. Leeds United had no shots on target, a statistic that portrays exactly how uncharacteristic this performance was. The Whites always create chances, even when they're not playing well, but against the Saints there was an alarming lack of anything remotely promising in the final third.

Turning point

Kick-off

Leeds looked lost from the very off. The opening minutes saw players resorting to hoofing the ball because they had no short options. It's not often that Bielsa's players stray from the plan but there were signs of it in this game. Missing six key players is obviously another turning point but the head coach felt he had first team operators in every position.