Leeds United fans lose faith with manager and board after Bournemouth disaster show
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Not who are they fighting for the drop with because that fight is evaporating by the week and although they remain outside the bottom three with four games to play their difficult run-in makes it difficult to believe that whether or not they rid themselves of struggling head coach Javi Gracia they cannot now turn this round.
With goals continued to be conceded like presents handed out at Christmas on a game by game basis Gracia has in no way stopped the rot that set in under Jesse Marsch and began under Marcelo Bielsa before him and it is highly possible another couple of hammerings are round the corner now when they go title favourites Manchester City then hosts bang in form Newcastle.
Even if they somehow stay in touch with their relegation rivals with two games to go – and their already poor goal difference has not been completely shot to pieces – they then face the little matter of having to win a game in London at West Ham then finish against a Tottenham side they traditionally struggle against results wise.
Footballing miracles do sometimes happen and Leeds only need to look to 12 months ago for that when they gave themselves a chance with one match to go then took it as they won at Brentford while rivals Burnley lost to Newcastle to keep the Whites up.
But this time feels different. Gracia, with his tactics changing with the wind, has not proved the answer and cannot seem to inspire enough fight in the players.
There are several who can be excused that criticism, Jack Harrison for instance who ran his blood to water in the latest 4-1 debacle at Bournemouth despite being asked to be in attack and defence where his sudden switch to play as a wing-back did not work.
But faith is in short supply as witnessed by the Leeds United Supporters Advisory Board issuing a statement of no confidence in the manager and the board.
In their stement they said: "With four games left this situation is no longer sustainable.
"The narrow escape from relegation last season should have been the catalyst for a season of growth but this season has now turned into a humiliating disaster.
"To pull on that famous white shirt is something that us fans can only dream of, yet it seems that some of the squad don't have the fight for this battle.
"We are therefore asking for immediate changes to be made to the first team coach and to those responsible for the recruitment of the managers and players who have been brought in over the last 14 months."
Gracia's future as head coach is sure to be discussed, but whether Leeds have the time to bring in another boss in time to lift the players for the trip to the Etihad is going to be difficult.
If the game at Bournemouth was to be Gracia's last in charge it will not be one he would ever want to remember.
It followed a familiar pattern. Despite deploying new tactics by playing a back three, the Whites were the better side in the opening stages and should have been in front with three good efforts all denied by saves or blocks.
But once again they went one behind to their opponents' first real chance and one quickly became two with Jefferson Lerma netting both and the second from another unconvincing attempted aerial clearance by goalkeeper Illan Meslier who seems unable to catch the ball these days.
Patrick Bamford pulled a goal back when he was allowed a free header to convert a cross by recalled winger Willy Gnonto who then went close with a header just before the break.
But Leeds' confidence always looked brittle and they conceded again after the break when Robin Koch failed to deal with Dango Ouattara's low cross and Dominic Solanke nipped in to make it 3-1.
There was a brief response as Koch, Gnonto and Marc Roca all saw efforts saved while Kiefer Moore missed a sitter for Bournemouth when left unmarked in the box to get a header in from a cross by former Leeds starlet Lewis Cook.
However, the Whites' latest embarrassment was complete when more weak defending allowed Antoine Semenyo in and his shot somehow squirmed under Meslier's body.
It was surrender and difficult for Gracia to explain again.
He said: “We tried to change the dynamic. We were coming from some performances where we didn't compete at the same level I thought we could do.
"We changed the shape knowing in this case were playing against Bournemouth, who are attacking with and defending with different shapes. We tried to find a better balance.
“I don't like too speak much about our situation in the table but in this moment we're not in the relegation zone and now we have tough games and we have to be ready for that.
"We need to keep our mentality, try to believe that we can do it and above all work hard in these next days. It's the only way that I know to improve the situation.
"When I arrived the situation was even worse and of course the last results are tough for all of us but we have to change this dynamic. We have four games to do it. We try and there is only one way to try and change, work and believe in the players we have.
“I have to try to help my players to play better, to find a way to be better defending and attacking, it's my job. I have to try help them in another way, a better way. It's my job and I have to try and do it.”
(Lerma 20, 24, Solanke 63, Semenyo 90+1)
Leeds United 1
Sunday, April 30, 2023
Bournemouth: Neto; Smith, Senesi, Kelly, Vina (Anthony 62); Rothwell (Cook 73), Lerma; Ouattara, Billing (Moore 62, Semenyo 83), Christie: Solanke (Stacey 89).
Leeds: Meslier; Kristensen, Koch, Cooper (Wober 35); Ayling, Roca, McKennie (Forshaw 71), Harrison; Summerville, Gnonto; Bamford (Rodrigo 71).
Referee: Chris Kavanagh