Paul Scholes has told Optus Sport’s coverage of Leeds United’s draw with Manchester United that he was surprised at how passive Marcelo Bielsa’s side proved to be on Sunday afternoon, claiming that Leeds tried to “spoil” the game. But surely, given that Leeds still enjoyed 44% of possession, Scholes’ claim is a bit over the top – and probably slightly fuelled by his old side’s inability to break down an improving Leeds defence.
Leeds were excellent, defensively. A combination of words that has not been said much throughout the campaign – certainly in the first half of the season. But the Whites have been much more resolute over the course of the last six games – conceding just four goals despite facing four of England’s European Super League sides in the form of both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea. Leeds have also gone unbeaten in that run.
On Sunday, Leeds were much more defensive than they were at Old Trafford when they shipped six goals. That defeat, in which both Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas scored, prompted plenty of criticism towards Bielsa and his style. Many suggested that Leeds needed to focus more on defending their own goal rather than attacking the opposition’s. That’s just what they did on Sunday – but it was not to Scholes’ liking:
“It was a performance you don’t expect from Leeds, they almost tried to spoil the game really – without actually having the adventure to go and create chances or score goals,” Scholes told Optus Sport’s coverage of a match that has seen Leeds climb into ninth place – above Arsenal. “You don’t expect that from them, are they getting tired? I don’t know, they do put a lot of effort into it. United tried to win the game more than Leeds did.”
Typical, really. Leeds are criticised for conceding too many goals but as soon as they become defensively solid – they are criticised for not venturing out of their own half as much as normal. They just can’t win. Not only that, but the performance from Leeds on Sunday was hardly the defensive, counter-attacking display that they were forced to use against Manchester City – when captain Cooper was given his marching orders for a foul.
Leeds, as aforementioned enjoyed 44% of possession. They still managed six efforts at goal and only one less on target than United. The difference in amount of passes was less than 100 with Leeds managing 385 – and they probably should have had a penalty when the ball struck Luke Shaw in the arm. So, while it was more defensive from Leeds and Bielsa – it is massively wrong to suggest that Leeds tried to “spoil” the game for United.
More so, it was United that failed to make the breakthrough because Leeds were tactically and defensively sound.