After such a promising build up there is no worse way to start a season. Losing so miserably to Manchester United is the worst. After Bielsa and Meslier had both signed new contracts the signs were promising. But it was not meant to be: Manchester United 5 Leeds United 1.
Loss of Phillips in first game against Man united is a big blow to Leeds but as a team we should not be too dependent on any one player. But Koch is not a sound replacement. The need for a credible stand in is the one final signing we still need.
At the beginning of the matchLucy Ward on BT Sport called the atmosphere in the ground moody tribal – I had been distracted all morning – this is not the soft landing I wanted in the return to a full Premier League.
Early evidence of robust pressing by Leeds was countered by high pressing by Manchester United making it difficult for Leeds to get out of own half. This match had all the signs of being at a frenetic pace.
Early pressure showed in how Pogba could have scored but was too clever with his feet. Manchester United began to have most of the ball with Leeds’ one touch passing not clicking. A rare foray into the Manchester United box showed their brisk movement with three players chasing the ball from Raphinha.
The match continued with such a high intensity every ball was challenged, with three Manchester United players to tackle every time Leeds had a player on the ball. Eventually the skill of Fernandes led to the first goal on 29 minutes.
At the end of the first half Leeds were unlucky to be a goal behind after defending well. Manchester United had more possession and were usually first to the ball but Leeds looked for the counter attack but their finishing was poor.
And then the second half erupted into chaos. Ayling scored a goal out of nothing which was an absolute cracker as he spotted clear sight on goal. But sSuicidal Leeds defending from last season returned. The first goal from Manchester United in the second half saw Stuijk not keeping up with Mason Greewood. Then a second quick goal showing Leeds defence torn apart by Manchester United. Junior Firpo, replacing Rodrigo, was left stranded.
he Leeds defence continued to fall apart with Fernandes allowed to score fourth and his hat trick. Then frustration seeped in with two yellow cards for Leeds. Fifth goal was awful with dreadful defending allowing Man U an easy shot on goal.
Inevitable that Bamford would come off late in the second half– seriously lacked any service from midfield. Roberts not a previous sub for Bamford so maybe new role? Late on Man U defence pulled wide and Raphinha had an easy goal to score and missed. Typical of the match that we did not take our chances.
Leeds were not match ready – missing Phillips, not quick enough to the ball on challenges, too many stray forward passes. Last time Leeds lost 6-2 to Man U they kept attacking but that impetus was missing from Leeds this time as they fell behind further with the final score Manchester United 5 Leeds United 1. Leeds had no match for Fernandes and Pogba. Raphinha was simply not at the races and Bamford not given the service in to the box by Harrison. The whole of the defence was not able to cope with their strikers.
Throughout it all the pathetic allocation of just 3,000 tickets to Leeds United fans did not stop them being louder than the remaining 65,000 Manchester United fans – at times it was as quiet as during the lockdown. Elland Road will be roaring when players return home.
Man of the Match: Luke Ayling