The manner in which Javi Gracia set his Leeds United side up against Liverpool on Monday was a “mistake”, according to BBC West Yorkshire Sport’s Adam Pope.
The instructions that the 52-year-old Leeds boss gave his team were clear to see on the pitch – to sit deep, stay structured, and quickly capitalise on any mistakes made by their opponents to forge goalscoring opportunities for themselves.
And for roughly thirty minutes, this game plan worked. Despite dominating possession, the chances created by Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were limited, as the Whites’ disciplined 4-4-2 shape held and kept Liverpool’s talented forward line at bay.
Yet when these defences were eventually broken through Cody Gakpo’s close range finish in the game’s 35th minute, the floodgates opened. Leeds could no longer afford to sit back and concede the lion’s share of possession to their opponents – they had to attack.
Gakpo’s goal marked the starting point of the Whites’ collapse as Gracia saw his side dismantled in a game which eventually ended with a humbling 1-6 scoreline.
For Pope, much of the blame for the result has to be levelled at Gracia himself, as the way he set up “wasn’t the best way” to deal with the Merseyside club.
“This is the one game where I think Gracia has come under fire for how he set up. To allow Liverpool just to pass it,” Pope said on the Don’t Go To Bed Just Yet podcast.
“I think that was a mistake. I felt they [Leeds] lost the momentum [after scoring to make it 1-2], obviously conceded straight away, then it [the game] went.
“So the way they played the game last night wasn’t the best way I don’t think. They really should have gone at Liverpool and tried to hassle them from the beginning.”
Leeds face Fulham this Saturday, sitting just two points above the relegation zone in 16th place.