Leeds United clear the air before leaders’ test

Referee Lee Probert shows Leeds United striker Matt Smith a red card at Sheffield Wednesday.
Referee Lee Probert shows Leeds United striker Matt Smith a red card at Sheffield Wednesday.
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Leeds United boss Brian McDermott is banking on clear-the-air talks with the players to revive his team’s season after a miserable start to 2014.

If fans thought it could not get any worse after the Rochdale FA Cup debacle they were to be rudely awakened as the Whites lurched from one big humiliation to possibly an even bigger one in losing 6-0 to Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday.

What could go wrong did go wrong with strange goals and the sending off of striker Matt Smith without him even touching the ball, but there was no mistaking that United were second best in every department.

McDermott’s tactics have also come into question as he stuck to a back three system that had been failing badly in recent games – before abandoning it at half-time – and he chose to play his best player, Ross McCormack, as a lone frontman.

New loan signings Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe had nightmare debuts and looked lost out on their respective wings while the midfield surprisingly failed to compete and the defence was never settled from the first minute to last.

In short, the worst performance since McDermott took over and one of the worst in Leeds’ history. The instant result was the players losing their Sunday off as they were called in for a clear the air talk in which McDermott wanted everyone to contribute with opinions on what they could do to get things back on track.

The angry Leeds manager pulled no punches after the derby defeat.

He said: “After that, in a local derby, it’s public humiliation as far as I’m concerned.

“That was just unbelievable. It doesn’t matter about being lower than the Rochdale game, that’s just humiliating for all of us.

“I don’t distance myself from the players because I’m part of the group.

“We’ve had a good run to get to 35 points but we’re having a poor time now. It’s a terrible time for Leeds United, the supporters and us.”

The next problem for Leeds is clear the air or no they now have the in-form Sky Bet Championship leaders to face with Leicester City the visitors to Elland Road this Saturday for another 12.15pm kick-off.

It will not get any easier with Huddersfield Town the next opponents, but United will hope to have restored some pride by then.

They are perhaps under less pressure with nothing expected against Nigel Pearson’s table toppers who destroyed another in-form side, Derby County, last Friday to stay four points clear. But McDermott cannot afford another embarrassing display if he is not to come under pressure for his job and it is a real test of his powers of motivation this week.