Thomas Christiansen admitted that the confidence of his players was sliding but insisted they deserved a result against Reading after Jaap Stam’s side inflicted Leeds United’s first home defeat of the season.
Christiansen conceded that dwindling belief had affected a disappointing performance at Elland Road this afternoon but voiced frustration after a controversial winner from Reading’s Mo Barrow was followed by a missed penalty from Pablo Hernandez.
Barrow, who spent four forgettable months on loan at Leeds from Swansea City last season, tucked away an 85th minute chance after referee Jeremy Simpson allowed an apparent pull on Hernandez to go unpunished.
Hernandez, however, had a chance to snatch a point with a 93rd-minute penalty, awarded for a trip on Samuel Saiz, but a poor strike was easily saved by goalkeeper Victor Mannone.
The 1-0 scoreline ended Leeds’ five-game unbeaten start at Elland Road but also inflicted a fourth defeat in five games on a squad who were top of the Championship last month but have now fallen to sixth.
Christiansen, who dropped first-choice goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald before kick-off and replaced him with Andy Lonergan, said: “We expected much of this game, especially after the two defeats we had and the one against Sheffield Wednesday. I expected a reaction and off course to take three points.
“We’ll have to continue to work hard and especially to work with the minds of the players to take them back to where they’re confident.
“Confidence can put the ball in instead of missing, like the penalty, but we can work on that. From my point of view, they’re the same players who brought us to the good situation that we were in before these last three games.
“We were too slow in the first half and it was too easy for a team like Reading to defend against us. We learned from that and after half-time we had much better build up and created more opportunities. From my point of view we deserved much more than we got but we didn’t get it.”
Asked about the alleged foul on Hernandez before Barrow’s goal, Christiansen said: “I imagine (I saw it) like you saw it. But before I signed here, they told me to be aware that foreign coaches should not protest or mention anything. I will stay on that line.”
Christiansen also defended Hernandez’s penalty attempt, saying: “This is a lottery. When you’re kicking the penalty there’s the possibility to score or miss. With the bad day we had today, we took the possibility not to the score but I will not complain about him.
“We need players who take this responsibility. He took it in the last minute but I want everyone to take responsibility during the 90 minutes.”