Last night’s result at Oakwell is a reminder of what can happen in the Championship at any stage in the season. I felt Leeds United were the better side for the first 40 minutes and looked in complete control. Then we switched off and they equalised, but at that point I still felt we were going to win. Instead, to Barnsley’s credit, they came out all-guns-blazing in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half and scored two fantastic goals. This stunned the Leeds players and we never really recovered from that.
Here are my three takeaway points from Saturday night’s 3-2 defeat:
Talking Point 1: No Plan B
For the first time in a long time, the formation and the tactics didn’t work for Leeds last night and it felt as though we struggled to adapt and play a different way to really have a go at Barnsley. Ronaldo Vieira’s play might have been the issue, his second half substitution for Eunan O’Kane helped, but the Tykes played us well.
This match highlighted the need for Hadi Sacko - his pace and ability to get at defenders would have made a big difference. I think the performance also highlights the need for some new blood alongside Wood. We were 3-1 down and Garry Monk decided not to put out Antonsson. That decision speaks a thousand words in my opinion. If we are to achieve promotion, we need to be able to add and change something to make a difference and last night we failed to do that.
Talking Point 2: Surprisingly poor defensively
The makeshift defensive unit was magnificent against Derby, but last night they seemed to find it hard to cope with the quality of Barnsley’s attacking threat, at least after the 44th minute. I commented on the quality of the full backs after the Derby victory, but last night emphasised the need for Jansson and Taylor to return ASAP, for Cooper to get fit, and for Leeds go to back to the four (Ayling, Jansson, Bartley and Taylor) who have served us so well this season.
The excellence of youth within the squad is brilliant but I still feel that players like Coyle, Vieira and Philips are not quite ready for week in week out football, at least not in a promotion hunt.
Midfield struggled and as Monk has said, you don't want to be fielding a makeshift defence regularly. Jansson returns on Wednesday. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 21, 2017
Talking Point 3: A lot to learn in the defeat
The only way to know where to improve is to lose.
For the last few months, Leeds have been formidable, but this has left us blinkered to what needs improving going forward into the most difficult part of the season. The game highlighted numerous areas which Garry Monk and his team are going to need to improve on if they are to carry on this amazing run.
It’s also good that it came before the January window closed. If it hadn’t, we might have been complacent and content with the squad. It is clear now that we need to add someone (or someones) in the next ten days.
This loss needs to be the catalyst of our season – not something to be forgotten but something Leeds can learn from and never let happen again.
@GarryMonk "The Championship is a very competitive division, it is hard to be at your peak in every game and we had a dip"— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 21, 2017
A quick shout out to Chris Wood - two goals again today for the big Kiwi. He found space in the box for the first goal and converted that stone wall penalty in the second half. Well done Woody, and don’t bother with China - the riches of success at Leeds are far greater than anything the Chinese could offer.
Positive from tonight. Chris Wood proving the doubters wrong once again. I really like the guy.— Mazzy LUFC (@MazLLFan) January 21, 2017
Overall, Barnsley deserved the win. They pressed us well and we were over run in the midfield and, without the introduction of O’Kane, the margin could have been wider.
We were deservedly beaten... but it’s only one game. We have another 19 to go before anything is really decided.
On to the next game against Nottingham Forest we go. MOT.