Neil Warnock pledged to never again preside over a Leeds United team like his current one after they slumped to another abject defeat.
It was United’s 10th home reversal of the season, with goals from Craig Bryson and Steven Davies confirming their position as Championship also-rans.
Warnock, known as a promotion expert, was given the Elland Road reins after Simon Grayson’s sacking in February and has spent the last seven weeks running the rule over the squad he inherited.
He now feels he has got their number and has vowed to put things right over the summer.
“The end of the season can’t come quickly enough,” he said.
“I said to (Derby manager) Nigel Clough at the end, ‘Enjoy this, Nigel, because you’ll never see another Leeds United team or a Neil Warnock team like this’.
“We had a lot of players playing today that know they won’t be here next season. We’ve not got enough Leeds-type players.
“We don’t revel in the atmosphere and that’s what we will do next year. We will revel in it.”
Friday’s 2-0 defeat at Reading saw United receive criticism in some quarters, with their robust, tough-tackling display reminiscent of days gone by when the club picked up its ‘Dirty Leeds’ tag. Michael Brown did his best to add to that yesterday, getting sent off 26 minutes in for a studs-up tackle on Theo Robinson.
Although Warnock felt referee Oliver Langford was right to dismiss the midfielder, the Leeds boss was unhappy with the official for comments he claims were made before kick-off.
“I don’t think you can complain about the sending-off,” said Warnock. “We all saw (Manchester City striker) Mario Balotelli’s tackle at the weekend and I think refs have been watching it. You don’t have to put them in that situation and Michael is wrong to do so. Putting his foot high gave him an excuse.
“But the referee said to Danny Pugh in the tunnel before the game, ‘I saw your game on Friday’. I think that’s pre-meditated, totally wrong and out of order.”
The win was Derby’s sixth in 10 matches and, had they had more than four games remaining, a play-off push may not have been out of the question. They are five points shy of sixth place Clough also saying afterwards that he is looking ahead to next season.
Derby continue to hold the Indian sign over Leeds after recording a seventh straight win against disorientated United.
Brown’s dismissal was United’s third in as many games and their ninth of an up-and-down season. Fancied for promotion in August they are now headed for a bottom-half finish. Warnock has yet to win a game in front of his own fans since being appointed in February.
Even before Brown’s hot-headed moment Derby had impressed and enjoyed all the possession and chances. After Bryson’s goal the result was never in doubt and County saw out a game they deserved to win.
Jake Buxton had a header saved by Andy Lonergan and Nathan Tyson headed the rebound over an open goal early on.
It was all Derby and Paul Green missed before Brown’s dismissal. Six minutes later, County were ahead when Bryson made the most of a pocket of space outside the area to curl a delightful 25-yard effort high above Lonergan.
The Whites had their first genuine chance when Frank Fielding did well to punch away Robert Snodgrass’s fizzing free-kick, while the former England squad man also got down well to deny Ramon Nunez.
Brown’s absence left Leeds woefully short in midfield, though, and after Derby walked through with 66 minutes gone, they made it two. Davies had a shot that was charged down, but was on hand to lash home when the ball fell back into his path. Danny Webber skewed wide when clean through before Lonergan denied Davies what would have been a third.
Leeds United: Lonergan, Connolly, Lees, O’Dea, Robinson, Snodgrass, Nunez (Rogers 76), Brown, Pugh, Becchio (Paynter 69), McCormack (Webber 82). Unused substitutes: Forssell, Bromby.
Derby County: Fielding, Naylor, Shackell, Buxton, Roberts, Green, Hendrick, Bryson (Carroll 87), Ben Davies, Tyson (Steve Davies 61), Robinson (Ward 81). Unused substitutes: Severn, Bailey.
Referee: O Langford (W Midlands).