LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa believes that his side could have been sitting at the top of the Championship table with a 100 per cent record after their opening six games – but instead find themselves in third place heading into the first international break.
Leeds suffered their first league defeat of the season in a 1-0 home reverse in Saturday’s top-of-the-table encounter with Swansea City, who have leapfrogged the Yorkshire club into top spot in the process.
Steve Cooper’s Swans, who triumphed thanks to a 90th-minute goal from substitute Wayne Routledge, are three points clear of Leeds, with Lee Bowyer’s surprise packages Charlton Athletic being in second place, a point ahead of United.
It was an afternoon of deep-seated frustration for Leeds, who dominated against the Swans, producing 21 goal attempts.
But only three were on target, with the Whites’ lack of a clinical edge in front of goal exposed when Routledge struck late on to provide the Welsh outfit with their first victory at Elland Road since September 1949 and just their second in Leeds in their last 21 attempts.
We defended well. We created enough chances to deserve two or three goals.Marcelo Bielsa
For Leeds, the game represented an unwanted rewind to a number of occasions last season when they monopolised possession and the chance count, but proved deficient in terms of attacking ruthlessness.
On a disappointing result for Leeds, who also spurned another of opportunities in their previous weekend home game at Elland Road, a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on August 10, Bielsa said: “We have lost five points playing at home. Then you have enough space (in the table) and you can be a little bit disappointed.
“We cannot criticise the style of the team who play, but we were creating conditions to be able to win all six games we have played.
“We needed to win or the minimum (was) don’t lose the game. We lost one game that we could win perfectly.
“We had a high possession of the ball. We attack with enough calm. That is the analysis of the game. The individual performance of the players was positive.
“We defended well. We created enough chances to deserve two or three goals.
“The chances that the opponent had were restricted to corners, more from the second ball from the corners. So honestly, we cannot criticise this point of the team.”
Leeds’ concession of just three league goals in the division represents the best defensive record in the Championship, but their inability to find the net with regularity at Elland Road is more of a concern.
Excluding cup and play-off matches, Bielsa’s side have scored just five goals in their last six league matches on home soil.
United now take a break until returning to action in a Yorkshire derby against Barnsley at Oakwell on Sunday, September 15, and Bielsa has acknowledged that it will be ‘a long period’ as his players wait to rectify Satuday’s result.
After a hectic first month of the season, rest and recuperation time will at least be afforded to the likes of Kalvin Phillips, who received attention in the first half on Saturday and Adam Forshaw, who have been playing with slight injury issues, the head coach confirmed.
Meanwhile, Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, Gjanni Alioski, Eddie Nketiah, Jack Clarke, Jamie Shackleton and Alfie McCalmont are due to head out on international duty this week.
Bielsa added: “It is going to be a long period for us, we have a lot of players who are not going to be involved in this period, we are going to try and recover some of the players with problems – Dallas, Phillips and Forshaw.
“At the same time, we are going to try improve the organisation of the players who are playing less.
“This is the idea we have at this period of time.”