It wasn’t an inspired performance from your side tonight – why could you not hit top gear today?
In the game, I think we played better than the opponent. We had many minutes of dominance, there were very few where we were dominated. In the first half we created more chances than they did, even if they scored a goal. The goal was a chance which was not intentional. A shot in which a player slips becomes a pass for a player who was not even asking for the ball. In general lines, the first half we should have been ahead given the chances that we had, but we didn’t defend as well in the first half as we did in the second. In the second half, we defended very well. We had the ball almost the whole of the second half, but we created little danger. The ball always finished in the opponent’s box. We didn’t concede any counter-attacks. We lost the ball in the final third. All the crosses, passes from out wide, into the centre, were imprecise. In the set-pieces, which we had plenty of, we also didn’t manage to unbalance in this way. To summarise, I think it was a game we did not deserve to lose. I think the draw would have been something more logical. And I think if there had to be a winner, it should have been us. I do agree with you, that in the first half we created six chances at goal, which is a good number of chances, with the dominance more shared. And in the second half with complete dominance and only managed to create one.
Helder Costa got a rare start, how do you think he did today? Were you pleased with his performance?
It was very difficult to generate an unbalance in attack. He participated completely in the first half when we attacked better. In the first 15 minutes of the second half, we were struggling to create danger, so I opted for Harrison.
How much credit do you give the opposition for being solid defensively in the second half?
I’m going to respond in two ways. If I had to evaluate how Aston Villa defended, I would say they defended very well. But I prefer to evaluate in the way we attacked. We had many, many, many balls to attack them and with one thing that was positive: we only lost the ball in the final third. Having had so much of the ball at our disposal in the final third, what you need when you are in that final third is precision in the pass. Whether that be from out wide into the box, or from outside the box, into the box. It could be interpreted as they defended well our final pass. Or you could say what I think is we lacked imagination and precision in that final pass.
We you considering making a change at half-time, and did you change your mind on that?
What was your motivation for taking Harrison out of the team tonight? Why did you feel this match in particular was the right time to take him out of the starting line-up?
No, the second half of Helder against Southampton made me think that it was a good opportunity to give him a start.
We saw you speaking to Emi Martinez before the match started, what did you say to him?
We just said hello. We’re compatriots.
To say this nine days in advance would be too risky.
What’s the key to this side becoming more consistent in the Premier League?
I analyse every game that we play. Today was an excellent opportunity to win two games in a row. We played a game where we did not deserve to lose. The key is to win games successively. When we don’t win a game which allows us to build on the previous victory, I try to explain what impeded us from be able to do this, which is what I have done today.
There’s a long gap between the next game, nine days, how do you best use that time, bearing in mind that the players have had such a high workload over the last few weeks?
There are many objectives. We want to have more players in the squad by recovering those who are injured. That the players that have been playing who have niggles can resolve them. And in general, to manage these nine days and the team can rest a little.
Do you think that the Villa left-back Matt Targett was lucky to stay on the pitch after booked?
To comment on what you are talking about, I would have to evaluate the performance of referee and so I prefer not to get into this.
The two centre-halves of Aston Villa, how impressed were you? And how responsible were they for Leeds’ difficulty in the final third?
I already answered this question. If I was responsible for Aston Villa, I would say those players defended very well. But from my position as the manager of Leeds, with what happened today, it’s natural I observe the virtues of my team not the opponent’s. I believe, like I said up until now, that we lacked the final pass. We lacked imagination to create unbalance in the final metres. And we lacked precision when we had to cross from out wide into the box. Normally, I don’t like to talk about the limitations of one game in particular, especially to attribute them to the virtues of the opponent. I obviously do believe that they defended well in the second half.
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