YEP Leeds United fans’ jury - Goalless result against Manchester United marks a major milestone
There were no goals but, then, very few who follow Leeds United expected very many to be scored by either side when second-in-the-table Manchester United visited Elland Road on Sunday.
And for all the obvious lack of goals - and scoring opportunies on the part of the hosts - The Yorkshire Evening Post fans’ jury was more than satisfied with the Whites’ performance against the old enemy.
Even the result has been taken as a positive step forward in the team’s development and growing Premier League nous.
It’s safe to say the fans feel Leeds United have come a very long way since losing at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
I enjoyed that! It might have been goalless and, at times, Manchester United were dominant on the ball but Leeds showed real grit and determination in a game that was lacking any real quality.
That determination also means this run of consecutive games against both Manchester clubs and Liverpool, once seen as a tricky set of fixtures, has ended with Leeds unbeaten and taking five points!
It was gratifying too to see Leeds repel half a dozen Man United corners without too much discomfort; I still cringed each time we conceded one but it seems it’s no longer the Achilles Heel it once was.
It might have been different had VAR and the referee understood exactly what Luke Shaw was doing when he leaned into the ball with his left arm to make sure it didn’t reach the unmarked Luke Ayling - pre-meditated handball in my book!
No worries; Leeds maybe weren’t the entertainers in this one but we proved again we are well worth our Premier League place.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips
We’ll happily take a point from that game, especially as part of an unbeaten run that has also included games against Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool.
This was probably the poorest-quality game between these two sides in my lifetime including the one when we were two divisions below. I rarely agree with Jamie Carragher but, if there was one derby for the fans to miss out on, then this was it.
One of the big spoilers of the game was referee Pawson who seemed to think that any dispossession of Manchester United was a free kick to the visitors. Our defensive six were superb overall and it was in the other half of the pitch where we really struggled with Harrison, Costa and Roberts below par and Bamford starved of service.
Nevertheless, this result sets us up for an excellent run-in to the end of the season. If we can grab something against Tottenham, it will mean that we have taken points from all six of the former Super League teams in our return season. As for this game, I can’t look beyond Kalvin Phillips for man of the match.
He was absolutely superb throughout.
A forgettable encounter but we’ll be the happier side.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.
If you had said Leeds would be unbeaten after this run of three games, you would have absolutely taken it.
A few months ago, Leeds might have struggled to get a point from these games but, since the turn of the year, they have transformed into a truly solid side. This wasn’t the greatest spectacle but showed again that Leeds can mix it with what are traditionally the bigger sides. The Whites were clearly under the cosh for the majority of this game but held firm. Kalvin Phillips did a magnificent job man-marking Bruno Fernandes out of the game, while Pascal Struijk was a solid last line of defence.
There were nervous moments when Marcus Rashford escaped from the clutches of Luke Ayling, but Man United’s high press left them open to the counter. Helder Costa was unlucky not to score with his deflected effort, while his ball across the face of goal narrowly missed Patrick Bamford.
With five games to go Leeds are safe are looking up the table. A top half finish would be some achievement.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.
Well, we all agreed that it wasn’t going to be a 6-2 reverse this time although the Sky commentary team seemed to be surprised at the 0-0 half-time scoreline.
There were few chances for either side but Illan Meslier made a great save from a Marcus Rashford free kick. By now everybody realised that this wasn’t going to be a classic. You could see the frustration in the faces of the Premier League big boys as the upstarts from the other side of the Pennines frustrated their every move.
In the second half, Ian Poveda replaced Jack Harrison but didn’t contribute much more. Robin Koch came on for Tyler Roberts, not to try to hold out but to keep tabs on the talented Paul Pogba who appeared late in proceedings when the Reds realised that Leeds are now made of sterner stuff. Helder Costa came closest for Leeds when his deflected shot dipped - but onto the roof of the net.
A satisfactory result for the Whites and not a load of fun to watch but, importantly, a yardstick showing how far we have progressed.
Man of the match: Luke Ayling.
Leeds held on for a well-earned point in a pretty low-key game we really wanted to win as a fan base.
But the players knew that a point against the team in second place in the Premier League and making it five points from the three games against the teams in the so called ‘super six’ would be better than anybody expected.
Leeds were unchanged with youngsters Sam Greenwood and Crysensio Summerville on the bench. The Salford lot made one change with James coming in for Pogba.
Both teams took a while to work out each other and the attacking intent of both was pretty poor. The only save made in earnest was Meslier’s superb diving save to stop Rashford in the later stages of the first half.
Leeds’ best effort came from the boot of Stuart Dallas but it lacked conviction and Henderson saved his shot easily.
Not a lot to right home about to be honest apart from a stoic defensive performance by Llorente and Struijk who gave the visitors nothing in front of Meslier.
The second half followed the same pattern, loads of effort but both teams never tested either keeper.
Saying that Fernandez had an effort wide of the post, for Leeds Costa broke away but his shot was deflected over the bar and on to the net at the back of the goal.
Both teams made substitutions. Leeds introduced Poveda, Klich and Koch as the Whites seemed to settle for a point as time clicked towards full-time.
A few balls went across both boxes late on but it ended goalless.
The fact that, in April, Leeds took eight points out of the games is testament to the progress this superb squad has made since the game at Old Farmyard.
It promises much in the games remaining and I, for one, am extremely proud of their efforts in 33 played this season.
To get to 50 points is achievable and that would be a superb return for our first season back in the Premier League.
Men of the match: Deigo Llorente and Pascal Struijk, very impressive in defence and Kalvin Phillips who never gave Fernandez a minute of peace.
I would’ve snapped your hand off for five points from games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United - and here we are.
Sunday’s goalless draw against our main rivals shows just how far this Leeds side has come.
To restrict a team that fired six past us at Old Trafford, to mere scraps in front of goal is an achievement in itself, but for us to keep our 10th clean sheet of the season whilst climbing to ninth in the table in the process is also rather remarkable.
If VAR was our friend, perhaps we could have walked away with three points, but Luke Shaw’s handball in the box was ruled to not have warranted enough of a handball to award a penalty.
The Whites defended valiantly, though, limiting the team closest to Manchester City to half chances, with little to really to write about from either half.
The performance and result certainly showed an aspect of Marcelo Bielsa’s men that had been developing in recent weeks.
Determination, solidity, and grit. We never once lacked those things, it just didn’t always pay off.
Unbeaten in six, including points against four of the ‘big six’ during the annual ‘Bielsa burnout’ period ... what’s going on?
Man of the match: Diego Llorente.