HEAD COACH Thomas Christiansen last night labelled his Leeds United side “soft” following a sorry derby defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Against an Owls side still reeling from a horrible week that had included a record-breaking defeat to Steel City rivals United, Leeds started promisingly, but were well beaten thanks to a double from Gary Hooper and a Kieran Lee strike.
The margin of defeat for Leeds could – and, really, should – have been much heavier with Lee wrongly having a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside and Owls duo Barry Bannan and Hooper both being denied by the woodwork.
“It is always the way I lose (that frustrates),” said Christiansen after watching his side beaten for a third successive game away from home.
“We have a plan and we did it quite well in the first half. But when you concede goals like we conceded them, you feel a bit impotent.
“We were too soft. If you can give me another word it will be fine but, from my point of view, we were not strong. When you compete in a league like this, you have to be ready to compete 100 per cent and make all the challenges like it is the last one in the game.
“Two situations (that led to Hooper’s first-half double) brought them into the game where we were soft. It is difficult to fight against that. You can do many good things, but if in two situations you are not able to stop these attacks, it is difficult to go and win any game.”
Leeds have conceded the opening goal three times in 11 games this season and lost the lot, Millwall and Cardiff City having also inflicted defeats on Christiansen’s men.
The Dane added: “Sometimes you are not strong enough or stronger than your opponent, but you are focused and 100 per cent sure about what you have to do. You can anticipate situations.
“In other situations you have to go in strong and this is the difference. You have to read the game and know what to do. We will have time to analyse this but it made a big difference.
“We created several opportunities that normally, in other games, we would score three or four goals. But here, it was the post and a good save from the goalkeeper but that is not enough. We need to be strong and go convinced that the ball will arrive.”
Christiansen’s mood at the final whistle was in stark contrast to that of counterpart Carlos Carvalhal, who had come in for heavy criticism from a section of the Wednesday support since losing the Steel City derby a week earlier.
There had even been speculation during the build-up to taking on Leeds that the Portuguese, the longest-serving manager in Yorkshire, could be shown the door if his side suffered a third defeat inside eight days.
Chairman Dejphon Chansiri, back in England after missing the Blades defeat, joined Carvalhal pre-match on the bench in the home technical area as a show of support – a gesture that the Wednesday head coach appreciated.
“The chairman came to see me before the game and gave me a sign by sitting next to me,” said Carvalhal. “I say ‘thank you’ to him.
“I have the commitment to him. When there was a proposal to go to the Premier league and the Championship when out of contract, I told him I wanted to stay here. He knows that. That is worth more than money.”
On his job security, Carvalhal added: “Mick McCarthy at Ipswich is the longest-serving manager in the Championship then it is me. That is very strange because I have only been here a little over two years.
“I do not want to be the longest-serving, I think Mick will be at Ipswich when he is 100. But I hope I can stay here a long time.
“I am not here because I have nice eyes, because I am a nice guy. I am here because I do the work and because I fight and because I have the resilience.
“I am very resilient, I am not the sort of guy to give up easily. We love to be here. We like the players, the fans and the chairman. Maybe you ask me why I am resilient, but look at my profile.
“I started (as a coach) in the (Portuguese) third division. I did work there to get to the second, and the second to the first. Once in the first division, I worked to go to a club who could go for the title and then, later, abroad. No one gave me anything, I earned what I have. I am not the person who was a big player and they gave me a team to start with in the First Division.
“This profile shows I am resilient, I do not give up. I am here to fight for Sheffield Wednesday. We can achieve promotion.”
Match report: Page 3.