Manchester City 7-0 Leeds United - good day, bad day and awful day as Marcelo Bielsa's squad argument weakens - YEP 15/12/21
Leeds United arguably hit their lowest point since promotion to the Premier League with the 7-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City.
By Graham Smyth
It wasn't at the hands of bitter rivals Manchester United, at least, but the drubbing came thanks to what Marcelo Bielsa said was the worst performance from his side in four years. And given the context of a season that has been more of a struggle than their first crack at the top flight in 2020/21 and an ever-increasing injury list, it was a hard one for anyone to take.
Positives were few and far between but we found two.
On a night like that anything remotely positive is to be cherished and Joe Gelhardt's bravery on the ball, his dribbling ability and strength stood out. He'll never look back on it as a good day but it was another building block in a career with serious promise. This is a player who will go on to do big things and the clamour for him to start is only going to grow while Patrick Bamford remains out injured.
Praising supporters for singing through defeat can be miscontrued as patronising but the way the Leeds fans stayed behind the team and the noise they continued to make in the face of their team's humiliation was truly admirable. Many of them will have felt like walking out in disgust and hitting the road, but there was a defiance in the stands that wasn't matched on the pitch. Leeds fans did not have a good day but they gave a good account of themselves.
The youngster has struggled with niggles and knocks on a regular basis, which has undoubtedly hampered his progress. Starting against Manchester City will have been a daunting prospect but a challenge and an opportunity to relish. He's already surpassed last season's Premier League minutes but at a time when so many are out injured, the sight of him limping off in the first half was a frustrating and bitter blow for club and player.
He wanted so badly to prove a point against his former club, not only to them but to Leeds having gone through such a frustrating period of form. So little that he has tried has come off, lately, and it was no different at the Etihad. He kept trying and it was noticeable how often he got on the ball compared with others, but barring one very good cross he couldn't seem to pick the right option.
Had he connected with Fernandinho when he lined up his fellow Brazilian late in the game, he'd have been missing the Arsenal game. Raphinha wears his heart on his sleeve and was clearly riled by what was happening to his side, but powerless to change it. He drifted out of the game and had next to no impact. Leaving him out there felt risky, with just one yellow needed to bring about a suspension. It felt like Leeds got away with one when he reached the full-time whistle without taking a card.
The first time one of his sides had shipped seven goals and you could tell how much it hurt when he stood on the touchline staring ahead as his players trudged past him. His post-game interviews were as bleak as any he's given in his time at Leeds and he refused to even attempt to draw anything positive from it. He wouldn't even talk about individuals You have to think there was a huge element of embarrassment for the Argentine and being responsible for that performance in front of a man in Pep Guardiola he evidently respects hugely will have stung a little more sharply. Nothing he tried worked, which must have felt harrowing. Picking the whole club up in time for Saturday is a monumental task. . Results like that, with so many key players out, weaken the argument for a small squad although as he himself said, who could prepare themselves for such a spate of injuries? Regardless of his current rotten luck with availability, a January signing or two now takes on real urgency.