I admit to having stopped watching after Leed’s second goal; it seemed pointless putting oneself through further agony!
Love him or hate him, Bielsa is undoubtedly an exceptional coach with far more experience than Smith and JT put together and I thought that last night it showed. He set the team up to attack our weaknesses and defend our strengths adding a phenomenal work rate and energy – it remains to be seen whether they can maintain such a high tempo for the whole of the season.
The Sky pundits will, no doubt be creaming themselves.
But enough of Leeds
We were a distant second best on the night, lacking organization, energy, cohesion – back to being a group of individuals rather than a team; epitomised by Grealish falling back into old habits of holding the ball too long and thinking he had to win the game by himself.
Watkins seemed isolated up front and there was a clear disconnect between defence, midfield and attack – it was almost as if they were trying to play exactly the same way as against Liverpool assuming that Leeds high pressing game would leave gaps at the back to expose with long balls – Leeds, however do not, like Liverpool, play a high line looking for offsides.
It would be wrong just to single out Grealish though. Cash had a poor game; being caught out of position a number of times and diving in high up the pitch allowing Harrison free range on the left side where much of Leeds attacking play originated. Harrison had Cash on toast all night which repeatedly pulled our defence out of shape creating space in the middle for Bamford.
Mings lost his cool as evidenced by trying to pick Bamford up by his shirt, although understandable to a degree, given Bamford’s ‘previous’ with the Villa and he did appear to make a lot out of incident after stepping on Ming’s foot. Trezeguet worked hard as always but seemed to revert to his old habits of aimlessly lapping Villa Park. McGinn faded, Barclay really didn’t influence the game at all and Luiz seemed at times to get caught in no man’s land.
Ironically, I thought Targett played well, keeping Costa quiet (he seems to have benefited from having Barclay play the number 10 role – or is that my imagination?) and along with Martinez, Konsa and Watkins probably escapes any criticism.
In the same way as four wins don’t make us a top four team, neither does one loss, no matter how disappointing, make us a poor side. Liverpool, Manure and Citeh have all suffered big losses this season which might just prove to be one of the most open for some years.
I do wonder whether the lack of crowds is a factor – top sportsmen do feed of crowd energy.
No game now until Sunday when it’s another tricky fixture against a good Southampton side; will this provide a clearer picture of how our season might unfold?