‘Wa­ter­melon’ off to sour start

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Brook

DARKO MI­LANIC was given a tough first les­son in English foot­ball and he ad­mits he’s not yet had time to un­der­stand his play­ers, or the Cham­pi­onship.

The Whites were vastly in­fe­rior to Brent­ford and grate­ful to goal­keeper Marco Sil­vestri for keep­ing the score re­spectable.

To add to the con­fu­sion, United owner Mas­simo Cellino said he did not know why he chose Mi­lanic, la­belling him a “wa­ter­melon” be­cause he will find out about him when he opens him.

And after the de­feat Mi­lanic said: “We were not good enough in the first half. Bad in pos­ses­sion.We weren’t dan­ger­ous.

“We need to play with a more pos­i­tive men­tal­ity. In the sec­ond half we were bet­ter, but Brent­ford were very good, very dan­ger­ous.

“I had only three ses­sions with the play­ers, so I had a lot of in­put from ev­ery­one. It wasn’t enough.

“This was a bet­ter ex­peri- ence for me than one train­ing ses­sion. I saw how the play­ers move and think. This was very im­por­tant.

“Gen­er­ally, I know this is a very dif­fi­cult, strong, pow­er­ful league. Teams play di­rectly with a lot of for­wards, but to know ev­ery team, ev­ery player bet­ter, I need time.”

In case Mi­lanic views “wa­ter­melon” as too much of a com­pli­ment, Cellino made the same com­par­i­son about his pre­de­ces­sor, only to sack him six games later.

Cellino added to his bur­geon­ing rep­u­ta­tion for ec­cen­tric­ity by be­ing asked to leave his seat among the home fans.

He re-ap­peared on the front row of the away ter­race, along­side sport­ing di­rec­tor Ni­cola Salerno.

But, fol­low­ing ten points from 12 un­der care­taker Neil Red­fearn, he would not have ap­pre­ci­ated what he saw.

De­spite Brent­ford’s nu­mer­ous chances, Leeds’ back four de­fended ad­e­quately but were not helped by a mid­field strung in a nar­row, cen­tral line.

Only Souley­mane Doukara ven­tured near the touch­line go­ing for­ward – oddly there was no right-wing equiv­a­lent – but even he was pushed in­field by Mi­lanic, and Brent­ford dom­i­nated the area around hold­ing mid­fielder Lewis Cook.

For­mer Leeds player Jonathan Dou­glas’ pass en­abled An­dre Gray to earn a penalty from Giuseppi Bel­lusci’s foul, though James Tarkowski ham­mered the penalty over.

Even­tu­ally Brent­ford’s dom­i­na­tion bore fruit, in­evitably via a through ball. Jota was given too much space to re­ceive Dou­glas’ pass, avoid Ja­son Pearce’s lung­ing chal­lenge and score.

The Ital­ian kept his side in the game with a string of saves, but his goal was fi­nally breached again by Alan McCor­mack. Re­leased by Dou­glas’ quick free-kick, the right-back saw his shot lift over Sil­vestri via a de­flec­tion.

Brent­ford man­ager Mark War­bur­ton said: “I thought it was a very dom­i­nant per­for­mance. Good tempo, good qual­ity and the only crit­i­cism is we weren't clin­i­cal enough in front of goal.

“The de­fence was res­o­lute and strong. God knows how many kilo­me­tres Dou­glas cov­ered, like­wise Alan Judge.

“We had good qual­ity. Our at­tack­ing threat was very ev­i­dent. I’m de­lighted for Jota – it was a great goal; good feet and a good fin­ish.

“All round I thought we looked very good.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Jota Peleteiro (third right) en­joys the con­grat­u­la­tions of his team-mates after scor­ing Brent­ford’s first goal

with fans UP CLOSE: Leeds owner

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