Good Morning. It's Monday 2nd October, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
Bad day at the office for the Whites
Leeds six match unbeaten run came to an end at St Mary's at the weekend, after a dire performance all round from Daniel Farke's men. Expectations were high going into the match, and why not? Southampton had lost all four of their previous games, leaking 12 times in the process. In contrast, with 2 win, two draws and four clean sheets, Leeds had reached the dizzy heights of sixth, and even had half an eye on the top two. Leeds got of to the worst possible start, going behind after just two minutes. Kyle Walker-Peters through ball, sliced the Leeds centre backs wide open for Adam Armstrong to latch onto, and chip the ball past Meslier from an acute angle.
Russell Martin's side kept the pressure up, and deservedly doubled their lead on the half hour mark, after Sulemana got the better of Shackleton (as he would continue to do for most of the game). With few options, he passed to Will Smallbone, who was surrounded by six blue shirts. From twelve yards out, the Republic of Ireland International simply passed the ball into the back of the net to open his account for the Saints.
Two quickly became three, four minutes later when Sulemana cut inside from the wing, releasing Adam Armstong, wide and deep, within the Leeds penalty area. He danced past Byram (several times) before smashing the ball past Meslier. Leeds got one back just before the hour mark, with Struijk grabbing his third of the season (from all competitions), but never looked like repeating their famous 4-3 comeback of 2005. The Whites got exactly what they deserved from this game; there were just too many Leeds players having off days!
Is Cooper an easy target for the Leeds boo boys
For a long while now (especially when on the end of a hiding), Leeds fans tend to reach out to social media and single out certain individuals who they believe are most responsible for a bad performance, and Saturday was no different.
Blame culture is nothing new at Leeds Utd, though certain players tend to get tarred with the same brush, whether deserved on not. Last weekend, it was Liam Cooper's turn to be the sacrificial lamb. Whilst his performance at St Mary's was below par, so was everyone else's. In fact, it's difficult to remember a game where so many Leeds players were having an off day. Did the Leeds skipper deserve the criticism or is he an easy target?
Farke feels Leeds were unfortunate
In his post match interview, Leeds Manager Daniel Farke defended the indefeasible by insinuating Leeds had been unlucky at St Mary's. According to the gaffer, the opening goal was offside and midfielder Will Smallbone was lucky to be on the pitch after his challenge on Summerville, after he had already picked up a booking. He dissected all three goal Leeds conceded but insisted he couldn't remember Meslier having to make a save...
Congratulations to Southampton, they were more effective in this game. With the statistics, we have won more or less each and every statistic, but the result is all that matters and the result is 3-1, so congratulations to them. Our defensive behaviour was not spot on like in the last games, in the last four games we were there with four clean sheets in a row and we didn’t allow the opponents to have many chances. “Today we needed to be more aware and sharper in the decisive moments.
Apart from the goals, I can’t remember one situation where Illan Meslier had to make a save, so we didn’t allow them too much. Sometimes tiny little moments can make a big difference. When we talk about the first goal, yes, normally if you would go to VAR it probably would have been ruled out as offside, but sadly there is no VAR in the Championship, therefore we have to drop a bit quicker in order to defend the run of Adam Armstrong.
The second goal, yes we should have shifted a bit quicker and sharper against the ball, but it was also unbelievably unlucky. “There was a situation where there was a foul by Smallbone against Crysencio Summerville. “You could also argue, he was on a yellow card, I don’t ask for yellow and red cards, but you could at least discuss about this.
Normally we would then play on an overload, but because of this situation, Cry needed treatment and there are protocols where he has to stay for 30 seconds out of the pitch, which meant we had to play an underload. In this moment, Smallbone, the player who fouled him, was there to score the cut-back. I don’t use this as an excuse, but to speak about it, we could have been sharper and quicker, but it was one of those days where we were a little unlucky and every mistake was punished.
I can’t argue about the third goal, individual behaviour has to be better against Armstrong. “If you are 3-0 down at half-time, it’s always difficult to return back with points.
Hay questions Farke's decision not to recall Rodon
After the game, Elland Road journalist Phil Hay took to social media to question Daniel Farke's decision not to recall Joe Rodon after his one match suspension. Farke had mentioned in his post match presser that it would have sent the wrong message to the dressing room, had he changed the team, after their performance against Watford. Hay was critical of the German saying that Rodon deserved to start, and the 'Leeds defence was at at sea' without him.
The former Chief Football Writer for the Yorkshire Evening Post wasn't the only one to question Farke's defensive line up. Former White, now pundit Jon Newsome insisted that Farke needs to drop Liam Cooper for the rest of the season in favour of Pascal Struijk (to play alongside Joe Rodon).