Leeds United let down by poor goals-to-chances ratio - Eddie Gray

THE MOST possession in the division, the most shots per game and second best in completed passes and passes overall.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 7:00 am
Leeds United legend, Eddie Gray. PIC: Gerard Binks/JPIMedia

Leeds United topped plenty of tables in the statistics charts under Marcelo Bielsa in 2018-19.

Yet third in the only one that mattered en route to heartache in the play-offs with Whites legend Eddie Gray admitting a lack of goals has cost United dear in this season’s promotion bid.

“Possession of the ball is all right if you are creating chances and scoring goals,” said Gray.

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Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. PIC: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

“But, at the end of the day, it’s black and white, how many goals do you score and how many do you concede?

“You look at the top teams in the division and they have all got goalscorers that have scored 25, 26 or 27 goals.

“But it doesn’t make any difference if you are scoring goals between a lot of people, if you get three or four people getting 15 or 16, but that’s not going to happen at a club every year.

“When it came to the crunch we just faltered a bit and I think the game that did it was obviously the Wigan game.

Leeds United head coach, Marcelo Bielsa. PIC: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

“They were down to 10 men with 75 minutes to go and you are one up, you are expected to win that game by four or five but then you lose the game 2-1 which was disappointing.

“From there on in, maybe a few doubts crept in, I don’t know, in the players’ minds’.”

With 73 efforts crossing the line, United finished the regular season as the division’s joint-fifth top-scorers with the same tally as Brentford who ended up in 11th.

But second-placed Sheffield United netted five more than Leeds with champions Norwich best of the lot and scoring 20 more than the Whites.

Leeds United's 2-1 home defeat to 10-man Wigan Athletic was a turning point in the club's promotion hopes reckons Eddie Gray. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Fourth-placed West Brom (87) and fifth-placed Aston Villa (82) also comfortably outscored the Whites who had the foundations with the division’s third-best defence – conceding nine goals more than both the Blades and Boro – whose concession of 41 goals each was the best in the division.

It is the fact that United failed to make anywhere near the most of the division’s best 17.2 shots per game that grates withGray with Norwich next best at 15.4.

Leeds are now hoping to secure head coach Bielsa for another year and Gray admits it is now a simple case of wait and see – both in terms of if the 63-year-old is staying and if the Argentine ultimately proves the man to take the Whites up to the Premier League.

“We thought that a month ago and you can never tell in football,” said Gray.

“You look at Man United and Jose Mourinho was the man that was going to take Man United back to the glory days.

“Football is a funny game and all the managers, it ain’t the manager, you are only as good as the players as well.

“It’s not all about the coaches, the players have got to be able to perform and carry out what the manager wants to do.

“That’s a big thing in football and we just need to wait and see what happens.”

Yet whatever happens, Gray knows the chances-to-goals ratio simply has to improve in 2018-19. Bielsa bemoaned the fact that Leeds were needing 12 chances to score one goal in their last four games during the regular season.

And Gray admitted: “You can’t do that, it doesn’t make any difference what league you are playing in. I’ve seen enough from certain parts of this year to think we are going to do it and that we can do it next year.

“But I think the disappointing thing for everybody is that when it came to the crunch we just fell short. You look at the number of games in which we lost points to teams like QPR who were on a bad run, Wigan, even going to Brentford who were not on a great run although I think Brentford are a decent team, especially at home.

“But they are the games where, if you are going to get promotion, then you’ve got to be picking points up.

“There’s no gimmes in the league.”