An ugly win is still a win, and any win that takes you top of the table is a good win.
Last night’s win over Birmingham City was one of the uglier matches of the season, with Leeds looking second best for good stretches of the first half, and the club was on the back foot for much of the time during the second half. Despite the poor play, Leeds United was able to do enough to grab the three points and go top of the table, and are currently the only team in the Championship that is still undefeated.
Head Coach Thomas Christiansen had this to say about the win: “I’m very happy with the result and also the way we took the points. It was a very difficult game and Birmingham gave us problems.” And while Birmingham now sit below Burton Albion in the table, the two matches couldn’t have been any different, but this win is the more important win of the two.
Luke Ayling vs. Birmingham:— Chris Taylor (@LUFCDATA) September 12, 2017
81% pass acc.
1 clearance off the line
at RB & CB. pic.twitter.com/Ptg3QyjgBo
Promotion will not come off the backs of displays of brilliant football like we saw against Burton Albion; the Championship is far too strong for that. What will see Leeds through to the end of the season will be wins like last night, when the team played poorly at times and it took a lucky bounce for Samu Saiz to put Leeds in front and a wonder clearance at the end of the first half from Luke Ayling after Birmingham had beaten Felix Wiedwald and the Whites looked as if for sure they were going to give up a goal and break the clean sheet streak.
Tonight's performance may not have been as pleasing on the eye as Saturdays but another top performance with everyone working together #lufc— LUSC (@LUSCExec) September 12, 2017
Winning beautiful will win you fans. Winning ugly will win you leagues. Atlético Madrid under Diego Simeone have been accused of playing “ugly”, but all that ugly play has gotten them a La Liga title in the 2013-14 season and two Champions League finals. While playing beautiful attacking football and scoring five goals a match would be wonderful, Leeds doesn’t have the resources to dominate the Championship the way that Barcelona or Real Madrid dominate La Liga. And while it might be no fun to win every match this season like the team did against Birmingham, those kinds of wins are important as well. Christiansen isn’t Simeone, and Leeds don’t play like those Atlético teams, but being able to grind out ugly wins is still a skill.
Garry Monk often had the team trot out and play down to their competition, and last night would have been a soulless draw last year. The creativity of Samu Saiz would not have been emphasized, much less encouraged, by Monk, and Stuart Dallas’ goal would not have been dreamt of by the previous manager, as he would have insisted that the players take their sweet time and head for the corner flag instead of looking for the dagger to put Birmingham away in stoppage time.
This win showed a lot about the heart and soul of the team. If they keep this up, they just might stay on top of the table this season.