Safe to say, many of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Leeds United jurors were a little flat after Saturday’s defeat by the Potters.
Most were expecting victory after the last-outing-win over Derby County, but Stoke City, under new manager Nathan Jones, were determined to make life as difficult as possible forthe table toppers, and the double-yellow red-card dismissal of Pontus Jansson also didn’t help the Whites cause on Saturday – and in weeks to come with a suspension pending.
Here’s what the Jury thought; what did you think?
It is going to be the usual roller-coaster ride isn’t it? For a moment, after the Derby demolition, I felt we’d rid ourselves of any issues and were set fair.
Naming the same XI against a struggling Stoke, everyone, like me, expected another Bielsa masterclass, but it didn’t materialise and I’m not sure why.
We dominated the ball as always, 71 per cent, and created 17 attempts, yet a couple of slack pieces of defending gave Stoke the victory and caused us to seek out the worry beads again.
Bielsa must solve these defensive lapses. He’s mentioned it before and it’s becoming a real issue but without them I’d argue we’d have sneaked a 1-0 win thanks to the last-minute Gjanni Alioski strike. Pontus Jansson will now miss Rotherham; he has only himself to blame for the first card but replays show the second was harsh.
Kalvin Phillips would have hoped to return in his ‘Perlo’ role but now I guess he’ll face the Millers at centre back! Then there is that FA punishment lurking in the background too. It’s all very Leeds United!
Man of the match: Liam Cooper.
Saturday was like an FA Cup tie.
Stoke City, with so many former Premier League players, top-flight riches and parachute payments, set up like a non-league side playing opponents far beyond their reach.
What followed was equivalent to a cup shock as United dominated play but couldn’t do anything to break the banks of well-organised Stoke City players behind the ball.
And Leeds were hit with two opportunistic second-half strikes. We lacked the creativity to unlock the door until the very last second of the game.
Another terrible refereeing performance meant we ended the game with 10 men and it was just ‘another of those days’. We don’t have the luxury of having too many of them so it’s imperative we hit back at Rotherham next week.
Man of the match: Adam Forshaw.
That was tough. Stoke made it tough and whether the League choosing before kick-off that 11 clubs were detrmined we get a good kicking over Spygate made it any tougher, one can only guess.
Leeds did not play badly but did not play well enough to overcome the home side’s tactics of denying space and going on the counter. The yellow card given to Pontus Jansson in the first half for what was a spectacularly good tackle was ominous and Leeds’ abject failure to tidy up a blunt and aimless attack from Stoke to hand them a lead, meant it was curtains early on. The second yellow for the Swede was confirmation that we were getting nothing.
United struggled in the final third but one must give Stoke credit for that. Stoke boss Nathan Jones has obviously watched videos of us and worked out how to beat us. His side frustrated and, as Bielsa would say, did not allow us to impose our style. This brazen unsporting behaviour is apparently allowed under the rules.
Still, you win as a team and lose as a team.
And with that in mind, no MOTM from me this week. It was below-par throughout and one must take it on the chin. That’s what grown-ups do.
Man of the match: No selection.
As you leave an away ground and hear opposing fans saying things like: ‘Well I never saw that coming’ and ‘Thats the best we’ve played in ages’, you just know that it was never going to be your day.
Stoke gave a muscular performance which reminded us of the days when Tony Pulis was pulling the strings there.
Leeds dominated possession, of course, but couldn’t make it pay.
On a bitterly cold afternoon in one of the most windswept stadiums in the country, goal attempts were at a premium until Sam Clucas put Stoke ahead on 49 minutes.
On 76 minutes, Pontus Janssen was sent off, carding a second yellow after falling in front of Benik Afobe. This booking seemed harsh as Afobe recovered and should have scored but for the heroics of Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
On 88 minutes the energetic Maclean crossed for Allen to score.
When it was too late Alioski scored a beauty from a corner.
Not a good day for United. Onwards to Rotherham.
Man of the match: Adam Forshaw.
Leeds fell to their fourth defeat in five at the Bet365 Stadium, a 2-1 setback coming after the fallout of Spygate.
The on-going saga might be affecting the players; this was nowhere near the display that was widely applauded against Derby. The sending off of Pontus Jansson for two yellow cards will once again test the squad. Leeds at least stay top, but only one point now is the gap to second.
Pre-game, it was announced that 11 clubs from the Championship have written to the EFL about Marcelo Bielsa sending his staff to ‘spy’ on their training.
One way or another this matter must be resolved quickly so that Leeds can concentrate on the gaining of points to keep in the top two. I’ve got a ‘bad feeling’ that the EFL will make an example of Leeds and Bielsa.
The two goals Leeds gave away were soft and much better was expected from the travelling fans.
Leeds did have a shout for a penalty in the second half but – as most fans know – we don’t get these.
Pundit and ex-Leeds striker Noel Whelan mentioned post match that no different option was available on the bench and maybe it was a game where Ryan Edmundson might have been useful considering that Stoke had two six-foot defenders giving Kemar Roofe not a ‘sniff’ of even a half chance
The supply of balls into the box also was not of the quality we’ve seen previously; Pablo Hernandez had one of his quietest games in a long time.
Leeds, at least, maintained their record of scoring in every away game this season when Ezgjan Alioski netted in the final moments of the game.
Not one of our better away days this season!
Man of the match: The referee.
Well, let’s just write that one off as a bad day at the office. Leeds weren’t at their best but all teams have off days in a league as intense as the Championship.
United weren’t overly poor. They were stifled by a Stoke side who, once they took the lead, looked to suffocate Leeds by keeping eight-plus players behind the ball whenever they lost possession.
Leeds found it hard to break their opponents down and once they went behind it was hard to see a way back. Pablo Hernandez was arguably the standout player for the Whites but even he was playing at the mercy of the referee.
It was a poor performance from Mr Ward who not only missed a clear trip on Hernandez but also sent Pontus Jansson off for nothing more than falling over. As poor as the referee was, Marcelo Bielsa won’t pin any blame on him. That’s the level of his integrity and professionalism.
Next week will be a big chance to pick up a much-needed three points.
Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.