|Leeds United 2 v 0 Rotherham United|
Saturday, 18th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Bielsa admits Leeds have room for improvement
Sunday, 19th Aug 2018 18:36 by Tim Whelan
Marcelo Bielsa might have gone into the record books as the first Leeds manager/head coach to win his first four competitive games, but you wouldn’t expect him to be satisfied with our first half performance against Rotherham United.
As expected, Leeds made a lively start to the game, but as the first period wore on we began to get frustrated by a side who were content to keep 10 men behind the ball. And we had to ride our luck at times, as a couple of defensive lapses could have presented the Millers with one or two goals.
First of all Cooper was far too casual with a ball across the face of goal as Leeds tried to play out from the back, but thankfully Bailey Peacock-Farrell was quick enough to react and smother Williams' shot on the six yard box. Then Taylor was given the room to strike from distance and we were fortunate that the ball came back off the inside of the post.
So although we dominated the possession in the first half you could say that Rotherham had the better opportunities before the break, though Berardi had tested their keeper with a dipping shot from over 30 yards. But Leeds got a grip on the game in the second half as Rotherham tired, and achieved the breakthrough only four minutes after the restart.
A goalmouth scramble followed an inswinging corner from Douglas as Rotherham cleared off the line from Cooper and Roofe, and it was third time lucky as Ayling’s close range header was eventually adjudged to have gone in, with the aid of goal-line technology.
And we finally made the game safe with the second in the 72nd minute. Leeds built and excellent move from deep in our own half, with the ball played out to Roofe on our left hand side. He skipped past a defender on the edge of the box and could have pulled it back for the unmarked Saiz, but instead curled an excellent shot into the far corner from a narrow angle.
So we can be happy to have won the game, but with Bielsa being a perfectionist, you wouldn’t expect him to be entirely happy with our performance at the post-match press conference. "The problems we had were in the first half were more linked to our own goal rather than focusing on our defensive actions. We have been better in the first half, but we built too much from the back.”
“In the second half it was looking like what happened in the first half, but the opponent didn't have any offensive action. Our opponents were tired so we had more space to attack. Unlike our first two league games, today was more of a Championship game. Rotherham had three clear moments where they could have scored a goal, which was because of the mistakes we made."
And Rotherham manager Paul Warne thought they could have achieved a surprise result after their first half performance. "The lads had a real opportunity to upset the apple cart today - and they didn't take it. In the Championship you don't get many opportunities to score, so hopefully we take more of them going forward. I thought we set up well against an excellent team.”
“We had a couple of good chances and we limited them to a few chances in the first half. At half-time we praised the lads and told them that they can't drop the standards. So from my point of view I was disappointed we conceded from a set-piece. We went toe-to-toe and the lads deserve some credit. A lot of pundits had us down for a big drubbing, but we matched them and I'm really proud of the group.”
This certainly won’t be the last time this season that Leeds come up against a team who work hard to close us down, and will be content to defend deep and try to catch us on the break. And there will be rival managers out there who will be looking at Bielsa’s tactics and trying to work out a way to overcome them.
So we will need to defend well when we have to and concentrate when the opposition close us down as we try to play out from the back. But for now we’re the only team in the division with a 100% record, and would be top if Boro hadn’t sneaked in an extra game. They don’t play on Tuesday night, so a draw at Swansea will be enough to take us top of the league.
Yes, there is still room for improvement, but we have to be delighted with the start we’ve made.
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