Micah Richards has admitted that he was really surprised to hear Luke Ayling claim that Leeds United are not fit enough following their abject defeat to West Ham on Sunday.

Richards was speaking on Match of the Day 2 as Leeds edged closer to relegation. Sam Allardyce’s side went into their trip to the London Stadium with their fate in their own hands.

Ayling Leeds
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However, Leeds played like a side with their fate already decided. West Ham – who did have nothing to play for – dominated the game from the moment Rodrigo put the Whites in front.

Richards baffled by Ayling comments after Leeds defeat

Allardyce was scathing in his assessment of the performance. And Luke Ayling suggested that the standards in their fitness levels have been in decline for a year.

Ayling Leeds
Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

It is hard to not feel that Leeds are already beaten in their battle to stay up. But Richards admitted that he was taken aback by what Ayling said after the game.

“I am very much surprised. Basically [Allardyce] saying they can’t defend and they can’t score. And then Ayling saying they’re not fit enough. I’m surprised. Ayling’s been in some really good form of late as well, and he’s basically just said they’re not fit enough,” he told Match of the Day 2.

“We know with Bielsa and how they used to run up and down the place, and carried on with Jesse Marsch, and then Javi Gracia, there’s a little bit more composure in the way they press. But to say they’re not fit enough, it’s staggering.”

Even the most optimistic supporter will be struggling

To the outside, it may appear that Leeds are being too negative. There is still a chance that we could stay up on the final day for a second year running.

However, it was a sucker punch to throw away the situation being in our own hands. Of course, it was always going to be difficult to win both games.

But heading into the weekend, there was a chance that one point would see us move out of the bottom three. But Everton’s last minute equaliser, Nottingham Forest’s entirely predictable win over Arsenal, and Leeds’ capitulation on Sunday has meant that there is very little optimism left in the tank after an absolutely draining season.

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