Right, let’s just take a step back, a deep breath, and grab a stiff drink.
Yes that result hurt, but let’s put a sense of perspective on things. Ok, we were on the wrong end of an embarrassing scoreline at the hands of our biggest rivals on their own patch in front of a full house for the first time in 18 months, but…it’s day one of the season and absolutely nothing is decided after just one 90 minutes.
It was a game that left far more questions than answers, but that’s not something new to Marcelo and Leeds. He is a deep thinker, an analyser, and a problem solver. Time and time again we’ve hit bumps in the road, and the wily old magician has tweaked and fine-tuned, and got the show back on track.
Put the hurt to one side – if we’d have lost 5-1 to Liverpool or Man City on the opening day it wouldn’t have felt half as bad as it losing to THEM. I know we got beat 6-2 there last season, but because the fans weren’t allowed in that one still doesn’t feel kinda real.
On Saturday it was very real. People will question the non-selection of Kalvin Phillips and will point to that as the reason Leeds were over-run in midfield. Maybe so, but Kalvin started the same game last season when we were completely over-run in the same areas and were 4-0 down after 20 minutes. That said, of course it leaves a hole when one of your best players isn’t on the pitch. Robin Koch played in that role and it was interesting to see afterwards how Bielsa went the extra mile in praising his performance.
Last season when we conceded heavily we were often guilty of being way too open, but I think on Saturday, we just couldn’t compete in the middle of the park. We weren’t reckless like we can be at times, we were simply second best in too many areas, and Marcelo will know that. Paul Pogba, one of the best players in the world by the way, absolutely dominated, and Bruno Fernandes showed why is he up there with the best with the quality of his finishing.
That said, Luke Ayling scored an absolute worldie himself but that one will get lost in the annals of time with it preceding the rout that swiftly followed.
The main thing is that this isn’t the time for negativity. One of my best pals always tells me a story about the Leeds promotion winning side under Howard Wilkinson. They went to Newcastle on the opening day – 5000 Leeds fans up there – and got smashed 5-2. They didn’t lose again until November, and finished top of the league come May. One swallow doesn’t make summer. Let’s move on.