Sam Allardyce has given a critical assessment of this year’s Leeds squad saying his side have ‘a long way to go’ after they were swept 3-1 by West Ham on Sunday.
Ahead of their Europa Conference League win over AZ Alkmaar on Thursday, West Ham looked a little sluggish following their midweek trip and started the slower of the two sides, conceding a goal from Rodrigo on 17 minutes.
And what a goal it was, with the Spaniard rifling in a stunning volley from a long throw-in from Weston McKennie to put a goal away.
But Leeds were unable to extend their lead, with Declan Rice grabbing the equalizer 15 minutes later, in what could be his last game at the London Stadium for the Hammers, before goals from Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini followed. in the second half.
The defeat was made even harsher for Leeds after Patrick Bamford was lost before half-time, seen clutching his hamstring and walking down the tunnel after being replaced by Wilfried Gnonto.
With his side now in serious danger of relegation, sitting at the top of the relegation places, two points from safety, Allardyce did not make any excuses for his team’s performance after the match.
‘Obviously very disappointing,’ he told Sky Sports when reflecting on the game. ‘There were a lot of things that suggested we had chances to get three points in the first half but unfortunately we were let down by the frustrations in the final third.
‘The second half was a bit of a battle, a bit of a struggle and then whatever we tried in terms of changes didn’t improve the situation for us.
‘There were a lot of chances in the first half but not enough quality. Second half we had to defend better and wait for our chances to be taken but unfortunately that was not the case. The West Ham players showed better ability in the final third than we did.
‘We have to look at ourselves and say if we win next week and miraculously stay in the league, we have a long way to go in terms of quality for the team.
‘The first XI really showed up there but when we need this team these days they haven’t made an impact in the short term. I may not be kind to them but this is all my many eyes can see at the moment.’
Leeds still have a fighting chance of avoiding the drop. But they need to get a big win at home against Tottenham next week, while Bournemouth will also be hoping to pick up points from Everton, who sit above them with a two-point buffer.
Yerry Mina saved a dramatic late equalizer for the Toffees against Wolves at Molineux yesterday, to keep them out of the bottom three.
But while the Leeds boss, who urged his players to ‘hold their energy’ ahead of their game against West Ham, he also said his team needed to take criticism in order to improve, before accepting that his side is ‘only someone to blame’.
‘We have to keep going, we have to lift spirits for next week, they have to accept criticism, it’s constructive criticism,’ said the 68-year-old.
‘We have to show a bit more of what we did against Newcastle and maybe get a win because Tottenham are not the best at the moment, so we will try and take advantage of that.
‘We have only ourselves to blame. We have a responsibility and we have to lift everything up to give that final performance in front of our home crowd.’
After his side won this week’s Europa Conference semi-final, David Moyes admitted after the match that Leeds’ first goal was the shock to the system they needed.
‘I was a bit tired after the game on Thursday night, the celebrations, how much we put into the game and the emotions that came with it,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘But I have to say we buckled down and we were a bit sloppy in the opening 15-20 minutes. And I thought after that we got good control and luckily we got a good win.’
Putting his finger on what caused that disrespect, Moyes said: ‘Yes, winning the semi-final and going to the final on Thursday night when you have a game on Sunday.
When asked what clicked his side into gear, he said: ‘I thought maybe they scored the goal, maybe we just revived a little. We controlled the game more.
Lucas Paqueta played today on the ball and helped us play well. We did a lot of good things today, had a lot of chances and could have scored two or three more goals.’