Neil Warnock 'not convinced' by Leeds United 'regulars' Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper
Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling both featured for Leeds United against Liverpool, but Neil Warnock is still unsure about their defensive ability.
Leeds United climbed out of the relegation zone in style on Saturday night thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win over Liverpool. Rodrigo and Crysencio Summerville etched their name on the scoresheet, but Illan Meslier stole the headlines with a resounding display between the sticks.
It was a spirited performance from Jesse Marsch’s side, but they still leaked chances to Liverpool, and the defending from Cooper and Ayling was concerning for former Whites manager Warnock.
“They’re so open. They have a good game like that where they give everything and attack but they’re so open to the counter-attack,” said Warnock via the Die For Three Points Podcast (9:00)
“Some games they play really well but still lose by a couple of goals.
“I’m still not convinced by them at the back. Since even during my time there. Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper – I know they’re regulars but I wasn’t convinced by the defensive side of Leeds.”
Warnock’s criticism is harsh. Cooper endured one lapse of concentration and nearly gave the ball away in a dangerous area, but for the remainder of the match, the Leeds captain was very resilient at the back.
He looks to be a huge upgrade on Diego Llorente, who still looks incredibly shaky at the back. Cooper’s leadership and experience can’t be understated.
As for Ayling, Marsch only brought him on in the dying embers of the game to see out the victory. He kept his head and defended the box well in what was a frantic few minutes for Leeds.
So even if Meslier was a standout performer, it doesn’t necessarily mean Leeds’ defence was poor. Against a world-class Liverpool attack, the Whites actually stood tall and worked together as a unit when on the back foot.
Compared to some of the defensive disasters fans have seen over the last few seasons, Saturday’s showing was actually one of Leeds’ best.
Whether or not Ayling and Cooper can remain first-team starters in the long term is an entirely different question, but on this occasion they deserve praise.
in other Leeds United news, Fabrizio Romano insists Martin Terrier could cost up to £43.2m in January