Pressure on Leeds United to deliver at Bristol City

Stuart Dallas consoles Pablo Hernandez after the Spaniard missed a late penalty for Leeds United in their 1-0 defeat to Reading. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Stuart Dallas consoles Pablo Hernandez after the Spaniard missed a late penalty for Leeds United in their 1-0 defeat to Reading. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Whether it is a blip or something more serious the pressure is certainly building for Leeds United after four defeats in their last five games.

Outwardly head coach Thomas Christiansen is not panicking, but with the Whites now suffering their first home defeat of the season and losing their last three away games the cracks are appearing.

Despite having a handy two weeks to work with the majority of players during the international break United looked anything but refreshed against Reading at Elland Road and came up with no new ideas, apart from changing the goalkeeper with Andy Lonergan preferred to big summer signing Felix Wiedwald.

True, they were unlucky to lose after Reading benefited from an awful refereeing decision to score their one goal following a foul in the build-up that was somehow not seen by match official Jeremy Simpson.

But they were handed a lifeline with the same official giving them a penalty in a generous decision as Samuel Saiz seemed to bump into Liam Moore rather than be fouled by him. It then summed up the Whites’ day that the usually reliable Pablo Hernandez saw his poorly struck penalty easily saved by Vito Mannone.

The big disappointment was not so much the result as the performance as United did not come flying out of the traps as you would expect from a team that had lost its previous two games. They improved a little after the break and did produce a big finish, but this was not the sort of exciting display that fans had seen from this Leeds team earlier in the season.

Christiansen quickly established what he saw as his first team this season and has been loyal to those players, but with Wiedwald left out last Saturday maybe that signals that he is beginning to lose patience now and more regulars could find themselves out of the team in the coming weeks.

The 4-2-3-1 formation so strictly adhered to so far could also be in for a change with the head coach hinting as much after the Reading match.

He said: “Of course we have to analyse the situation, what we can improve, and if the way we can improve has to be through a change in the system, we will change.

“These players can play in the same system or another one. The matter is to find a solution and to come back to winning.”

Getting back to winning is going to be far from easy with Leeds now heading for a tough run of matches beginning with two travels.

Bristol City are next up and the United defence is going to need to improve on recent showings if the run of away failures is to be ended.

Lee Johnson’s team have scored two more goals than Leeds so far in the Sky Bet Championship. They are unbeaten in their last 12 games and have only been beaten once this season, claiming the scalps of Premier League teams Stoke City and Watford in the Carabao Cup as well.

With their all-action attacking style they will be a real threat, although they did misfire in a surprise goalless draw at home to Burton Albion last Friday.

Leeds are quickly in action again next Tuesday when they go to Premiership Leicester City for a fourth round Carabao Cup tie.

Having made changes to his team for previous ties in this competition a number of fringe players can expect a call from Christiansen with a chance to impress on offer and the opportunity to win a place in the league line-up – as goalkeeper Lonergan did in the last round to convince his boss that he is now worth a run in the side.