Daniel Farke facing tough job as player unrest overshadows Leeds United's start to season

With more selection problems, injuries already biting and a weak looking looking squad it should have surprised nobody that Leeds United suffered their first defeat of the season at Birmingham City.
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Daniel Farke has already had to contend with enough problems to make him wonder what he has taken on with the Eland Road club and throw in the usual luck Whites bosses have and it is not difficult to feel sorry for the latest in the hot seat.

With Willy Gnonto and Luis Sinisterra "unavailable" for whatever motive to add to the already sidelined Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford, Crysencio Summerville, Jack Harrison, Tyler Adams, Junior Firpo, Stuart Dallas, Sam Greenwood, Sonny Perkins and Mateo Joseph United were unable to name their full number of substitutes and their bench featured two goalkeepers and only one forward.

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Rarely has a squad started a season so threadbare on numbers and without urgent reinforcements any promotion bid will be long out of reach long before Christmas.

Daniel Farke felt his Leeds United side were worthy of a point at Birmingham City.Daniel Farke felt his Leeds United side were worthy of a point at Birmingham City.
Daniel Farke felt his Leeds United side were worthy of a point at Birmingham City.

And with only an injury-time penalty proving Leeds' downfall Farke was entitled to feel frustrated after the game.

He said: “When you judge the game, I think normally one point for each team would have been deserved.

“We had more possession, but they had obviously with their with their set up and offence, individual quality in their counter attacks.

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“I think it was a game where both defensive roles were dominating the game and there were not many chances in the game, especially not out of open play.

“We had one or two really, really good situations in the first half, perhaps we lacked a little bit of quality in order to use the situation.

“I think for both sides, it didn't look that any side would score today, but in football it's also about effectiveness and certainly we gave the referee a decision to make in injury-time, out of a situation where it was not even a chance for them.

“It was a bit of naive behaviour of an offensive player in his own box and it's certainly what happens quite often and this this made the difference.

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“In this situation we were not smart enough, a bit naive to go into this duel and it gave the referee a chance to make a decision and I think this was the difference.”

On the absence of talented attacker Sinisterra after Gnonto was believed to have declared himself unavailable to play, Farke added: "He was not available. There will be a time when we speak about this topic but not today. I don’t judge it and don’t explain it more, he was just not available.

"If some players want to leave and are not available it doesn’t make life easy for the group, that’s for sure. But I’m quite pragmatic in the situation, if someone doesn’t want to be with us he will move out of the dressing room and will not train with us because I just want a group who is fully focused and fully committed.

"And believe me this club is bigger than any player or even any manager or board member, no one is bigger than the club and this is my attitude. If someone doesn’t want to be with us it’s not like I’m praying and begging oh please play for us.

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"If someone doesn’t want to be a member of our group then my reaction is always okay, from this moment on he doesn’t train with us.

"He can train more or less alone in his own dressing room, but not with us anymore. I just need players who are fully committed to defend this shirt.”

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It was against this background of unrest that Leeds had to play their second league game since relegation and it was little wonder they delivered a banh average display.

They created precious little throughout, but did defend well enough only to be undone by the late penalty.

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A glimpse of a chance came early on when Luke Ayling's cross found Dan James in the box, but after he chested the ball down he saw his volley blocked.

Ayling was involved again soon after, but after finding Ethan Ampadu on the edge of the box the Welsh international could not keep his strike down.

Kevin Long headed wide from a corner for the hosts, but otherwise they offered little threat even with Siriki Dembele looking dangerous down their left flank.

Dembele fired well over from outside the box while fit again Leeds sub Georginio Rutter had a double effort blocked shortly after coming on for Joe Gelhardt.

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Scott Hogan smashed a volley over for Birmingham before James had a shot deflected wide after a rare good Whites move.

Long headed a good chance over then Illan Meslier saved well from a 25-yard shot by Juninho Bacuna and at the other end Sam Byram's flick on from a James corner saw the ball fly just wide.

Just when it looked as if a goalless draw was on the cards up popped the hosts with a winner as Ethan Laird raced onto a ball over the top and a clumsy challenge by James resulted in a penalty put away by sub Lukas Jutkiewicz.

(Jutkiewicz 90+1 pen)


Attendance: 20,451

Birmingham: Ruddy; Laird, Buchanan, Sanderson, Bielik; Bacuna (James 88); Dembele (Longelo 90+4), Long, Sunjic, Anderson (Miyoshi 65); Hogan (Jutkiewicz 88).

Leeds: Meslier; Ayling, Cresswell, Struijk, Byram; Ampadu, Gray, Shackleton (Rodon 90+2), Poveda, James; Gelhardt (Rutter 67).

Referee: Tim Robinson