By George Overhill

19th Apr, 2023 | 4:10pm

Leeds United: Phil Hay shares lack of Javi Gracia answers for Liverpool defeat amid Max Wober verdict ahead of Fulham

Javi Gracia refused to criticise the Leeds United players following the 6-1 defeat to Liverpool but he has to make changes for Fulham says Phil Hay.

Speaking to the Whites boss after the awful defeat at Elland Road on Monday night (17 April) The Athletic reporter questioned him over how he fixes a team that has conceded 11 goals in two games, but the Spaniard would only focus on his own failings.

Hay believes that Max Wober’s return to the bench after injury means the Austrian defender must start on Saturday (22 April) if at all possible with changes to the line up now unavoidable.

Speaking on The Phil Hay Monday Club podcast for The Square Ball (18 April, 12m) he said of Gracia: “He said, ‘I don’t have an explanation for this’. I asked him, ‘Well doesn’t that make it difficult to fix if it’s not clear what’s going on?. He just said, ‘Look, I only want to be critical of my own performance… that’s the only thing I want to pick holes in’.

“But you would think that there are going to have to be changes again before Fulham. The issue is what does he actually do?

“You can get [Willy] Gnonto into the team, you’ve got people like [Crysencio] Summerville and so on. Wober was on the bench and I think if he’s fully fit has got to play. Because they need something at Fulham this weekend, they really do.”

Panic stations

Nobody saw the second half surrender to Crystal Palace on 9 April coming, and presumably Gracia didn’t see the follow-up hammering to Liverpool coming either or he wouldn’t have put those players out.

But if he doesn’t see a way to fix it then it is going to be an awful final few weeks of the season ahead of a return to the Championship.

It’s an increasingly rare quality for someone to look at themselves before apportioning blame elsewhere, but after some of the performances at Elland Road this week there has to be consequences in this case.

Wober, who is a good defender in himself but has transformed the Leeds United defence to a startling degree since arriving in January, is a must if he can play.

It sounds like hyperbole but if the Austrian can recapture the form he was in prior to getting injured on international duty he might be the difference between top flight survival or relegation.

The defence was a mess against Liverpool but both Robin Koch and Junior Firpo have looked far better next to Wober.

Willy Gnonto’s reduced status is looking increasingly strange and he should be used but the central midfield looked like more of a concern in both of the last two outings, so the manager is going to have to find answers fast.

In other Leeds United news, over £120million of upcoming costs which has really worried a BBC journalist for the future.