If this performance can be interpreted as a glimpse into the future, then should we have a laugh or cry?!
In a game of two halves, we were so inferior to Leeds United in the first 45 minutes that we looked like an under 12s side against a group of u14s – with a two man disadvantage for the most part.
Then the teams changed ends and the men clad in Portugal colours looked more like the national side we’re so closely aligned with. Quite what to make of it all is still open to interpretation.
Maybe we put the first half down to a bad 45 minutes at the office and an inevitable improvement after the break. It couldn’t have got much worse? Or maybe it’s still a team trying to figure out a new set of demands – and a team gradually getting to grips with them.
We went from meek to magnificent on occasions and were worthy of the deflected goal from Jimenez, which owed much to a slice of good fortune to offset the bad luck we lamented when VAR chalked off a stunning Saiss shot by millimetres.
One constant in either half was the performance of Max Kilman who was a clear man-of-the-match, impressing with ice-cool veins around his frantic teammates.
Whatever way you look at it, it’s a mightily impressive three points against the media darlings who barely acknowledged we were making the journey up the M1 to play before kick-off. It means we have won three of our first five games for the first time in 41 years – having not won any of our first six last term. Twelve clean sheets in 19 matches is nothing to be sniffed at either, nor a sixth place in the league, which is four above Bielsa’s boys, who have been fawned over more times in a month than most teams get credit for in a year.
You could see why though, in fairness. They won most first and second balls before we got close to the third. They were waspish in the tackle; bright eyed in attack.
Yet they rarely tested Patricio when so utterly in command, so maybe Nuno’s rope-a-dope was all part of the plan. As stated, it’s all open to interpretation.
It will be interesting to get the nationals’ take on it all? Probably that we’re just a second half team with a handful of stats to prove it. No matter how you choose to slice it, nine points from five games from a misfiring team of varying proportions is a haul to take immense satisfaction from.
In the absence of a definitive interpretation of this game of fine margins, it’s probably best to leave it to Nuno. He always does know best.
“It is very hard to play against Leeds the way they defend and the way they go man-to-man. It is difficult to release and find the spaces and the boys started doing some of the things that can unbalance their situations; driving with the ball (which) didn’t then allow them the second line of possession.
“The hard work of the boys. Especially in terms of fitness of the team…the answer was better. We grow as the game goes by, so that’s a fantastic answer.
“This is the bounceback that we desire. It was a very difficult game for us. Leeds started very well, causing us enormous problems. In the second half we play good. We were organised, didn’t allow space in the back and started anticipating in our defending with our actions, which allowed us to counter attack, and we should improve on this aspect of the game.
“The answer in terms of fitness was better, but we always search for the goal first. But if you ask me, I would rather score in the first minute.”
So would we Nuno, but it would be churlish to argue!