A RELAXED Thomas Christiansen described himself as “happy” and “comfortable” with Leeds United’s season and blamed “small details” for their recent defeats ahead of a key examination at Bristol City this afternoon.
Leeds are under pressure to avoid a fourth straight league defeat at Ashton Gate but Christiansen said their losing streak had not affected his confidence in his players or tempted him to shift away from his existing philosophy.
United’s season has taken a notable turn for the worse since Christiansen’s honeymoon period as head coach – taking the club to the top of the Championship after seven games – ended in a 1-0 loss at Millwall last month. The defeat was one of four suffered by Leeds in their past five games and the club’s unbeaten home record was broken by Reading at Elland Road last Saturday.
Christiansen’s squad are still inside the play-off zone, in sixth position and two places behind Bristol City, and despite admitting that confidence among his squad had fallen, the 44-year-old denied that he was feeling any additional strain.
“If I am nervous and I don’t have confidence then that will be reflected in the players,” Christiansen said. “They take it all to them – the positive things, the negative things – and if they see in the coach that he doesn’t believe in the players, this is what I’ll transmit.
“The mood is how I feel and I feel comfortable. I feel secure with the situation we’re in now, that we’ll take this situation forward and come back to the good results.”
Leeds’ 1-0 loss to Reading led to calls for Christiansen to move away from the 4-2-3-1 formation which saw the club start the season with a nine-match unbeaten run.
Former United manager Eddie Gray told the YEP earlier this week that he hoped to see Christiansen include an additional midfielder against Bristol City by handing 19-year-old Ronaldo Vieira a first league start of the term.
Christiansen, however, said he was not tempted to instigate a major rethink of his patient, passing style and suggested United’s impressive initial form had created unrealistic standards.
“The surprise was probably that we started too good and created an expectation that was perhaps not the right one,” he said. “But it’s much better to have started that way than to come from losing.
The mood is how I feel and I feel comfortable. I feel secure with the situation we’re in now, that we’ll take this situation forward and come back to the good results.Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen
“I’m quite happy. For me, when I analyse the games and the situation it’s small details. Of course you can be more aggressive, you can be faster, you can have a better understanding but these things are what we are working on.
“The players have proved that they understand and they know what they have to do, but we need to build a little bit up on the confidence.”
Bristol City have avoided defeat in all of their past 12 games and will see their highest attendance of the season at Ashton Gate today. United, in contrast, lost all of their last three away matches.
Christiansen, though, said the club had passed up key chances during some of those fixtures.
“Against Sheffield Wednesday we had two very clear opportunities to get 2-0 up and finally we lost,” he said. “Against Reading we were better in general in the second half and we created more opportunities. We deserved more.
“It’s still the same players we have here who were able to be first in the table, playing very good games, taking good wins and six clean sheets in a row. It hasn’t changed much. If we look back to the last three defeats and we take wins in the two games I mentioned, we would be in a very good position now.”