Yesterday’s game versus Millwall was a rollercoaster of emotions; frustration, misery, hope, joy and ultimately disappointment all in one match. The lifelong emotions of being a Leeds United fan condensed into one afternoons worth of football. It was a crazy macth, thos looking at the latest football scores must have been wondering what was going on. The start was all too familiar, ill-discipline has plagued the side this season, especially in recent weeks, and it came back to haunt us yesterday. Club captain Liam cooper said ahead of the game;
It is disappointing then following Samuel Saiz’s red card for spitting against Newport County and Eunan O'Kane’s red card for a head-butt against Ipswich that Cooper himself should see red for a late challenge on Saturday. Yes, it’s a different kind of offence, a footballing incident rather than off the ball stupidity but discipline should be at the forefront of all the players’ minds, particularly the captains, following two red cards in the previous two matches.Stupid red cards which can be avoided are disappointing. That’s what they’ll always be. We as a team won’t stand for that. We’ve got to sort it out and we will do. We’re not a horrible group or a dirty group. We’ve spoken about that behind closed doors this week. It’s about finding a balance with the officials of not being too soft and not being too over the top. But we can’t go into games lacklustre. You’ve got to put your foot forward and make people know you’re there. Maybe we’ve taken that a bit too literally.
Down to ten men and two nil down before Christiansen has reorganised things it looked as though the afternoon could only get worse. Whatever was said to the team at half time certainly worked. A different Leeds United emerged for the second half. Within thirty seconds Lasogga pulled one back for Leeds before Kemar Roofe bundled the ball over the line to make things level. It was then Lasogga again, who has received much criticism lately, who fired home to give Leeds United the lead.
This is the Leeds United we have come to love this season. Playing on the front foot, attacking and pushing our opposition back. Could it be, could we win this? Of course the answer was no. That’s the problem with being a Leeds fan, your hopes and dreams are built only to be crushed. Two late goals from Millwall, we slumped to defeat and down to tenth in the table.
In some ways it was inevitable, playing with only ten men for over fifty minutes and coming back from a two goal deficit was bound to take its toll. Our attacking players were fatigued and needed to be replaced, Christiansen opted to go more defensive for the final minutes of the game. But did we need to? Could we have maintained an attacking game? Did the players have enough left in them?
It is a frustrating loss but in reality the game was lost in the first forty five minutes not in the last five. The come-back was spirited and shows that there is fight in the team but it is a shame it takes having a man sent off and being two goals down to see that spirit. This is Leeds United and we expect our players to be up for every game. Our season is in danger of slipping away, just as last season did.
We may not have been expecting to challenge for the automatic places this season, we are still a work in progress but I would at least hope for progress on last season. This could be a defining moment for Thomas Christiansen and his side. The team have a week off now before we place Hull and a trip to Spain to clear their heads. How we react next Tuesday is as important as yesterday’s result.
Christiansen knows but is required but the question is can he turn things around? With Saiz still suspended for four matches, O’Kane for two, Cooper for four and now Phillips for two having reached ten yellow cards we are four players down due to discipline. Whether off the ball stupidity or bad tackles we need to stamp it out, we need all our players available if this season is not to fade away like last.It was a bad end, when you lose in the way that we lost today. I am disappointed, we always have to get punished before we react and I hope we react next time before we get punished, I want us to open the scoring. The reaction in the second half was very positive, but we haven’t taken anything out of the game. It was a really good performance in the second half, everyone gave the maximum they had inside of them and this is what I expect from my players, they have to die on the pitch and give everything. We cannot go on like this.
We spoke about discipline through the week, today’s red card wasn’t a spit or a provocation though, it was a strong challenge in a situation. On Monday we will go to Murcia to prepare for an important game at Hull, we will be away, have time to speak, train and get ready for this next game. In this time we will also have many individual talks as well, about what we want and expect.