Leeds United completed their first league double over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United since 1992 with a 2-1 victory today, sealed by a Phil Jagielka own goal.
How pleased were you with the performance? Do you think you deserved to win by a bigger margin?
“We won only by one goal. When the opponent sees there is only one goal difference they arrive a lot in the opponent’s goal. But we had sufficient amount of chances to have scored more goals and especially we had many dangerous situations that didn’t end in shots that would have increased the amount of options we would have had to score more goals. But it is very difficult in the Premier League to imagine a comfortable victory, at least for us.”
What was the deciding factor in recalling Liam Cooper to the starting XI?
“Pascal played very well against Chelsea and Fulham but in the training this week I saw that Cooper was at his best. Cooper is the type of player who doesn’t lose his sharpness even if he isn’t able to train for one or two weeks and when we confirmed that it was still in this manner in the training sessions this week I opted for him. But the two games that Pascal played previously would have also made him deserving of continuing in the XI.”
How close do you feel Diego Llorente is to showing his full potential?
“All the central defenders have had the opportunity to play: Koch and then after Llorente, Cooper and Pascal, and Ayling when he had to play there, even at one point Phillips, all of them had a very good level so in a season that’s so long, the three most defensive positions (the two centre-backs and defensive mid), it’s good to be able to count on five players. Also taking into account that Pascal, Koch and even Llorente can play in the defensive midfield position.”
An emotional day and weekend for the club – how pleased are you to give the fans a win to celebrate today?
“Victories always generate happiness and optimism and when we lose someone it always generates sadness and memories. It’s very difficult for happiness or victory to compensate for the loss of someone, but it’s better to have been able to have won to say goodbye to such an extraordinary player.”
Adam Forshaw was in a positive moment last time you mentioned him – has he been able to progress?
“The timings for Forshaw even if he has been in a positive moment for ten days, we have to measure it in months. He has basically been not playing for two seasons and to be able to play 90 minutes at a high competition after being healthy – there is still a while to go before you’re ready for that. He’s healthy, and has two months left of the season to prove that he is finally over his issues.We all hope it will be like this, because he is a very important player and he has made a massive effort to overcome the situation that he’s been through.”
Traditionally when you come up against a two-man attack you play with three centre-backs, why did you go with a back four today, although I appreciate it was a fluid formation?
“No, we played with a back three, Ayling, Llorente and Cooper played at the same level, Alioski a little bit in front on the left and Raphinha a little bit in front on the right. I understand that you observed four players in a line but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that Alioski wasn’t marking the centre forwards but playing further in front and Ayling was playing more central.”
Is Patrick Bamford still nursing a knock or was he not providing enough on the pitch for you today?
“After the game against Fulham where he made a big effort, given that he played with difficulties below his optimal level, he needed a week to recover from that. And the following week his load had progressively increased and it was expected that he wouldn’t have been able to play the full 90 minutes given the continued efforts he usually has. Either way the minutes he did play he was dangerous as usual.”
Could you give us an assessment of Jack Harrison’s performance today?
“In the last two games he has had a bigger increase in his performance, today he had a lot of influence, he was decisive and in the game against Fulham as well. He’s a player who when he manages to play at his best version, can play at the best of his game.”
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