Leeds United have won once and lost twice in Javi Gracia‘s first three games in charge, and Phil Hay believes Leeds have become “tighter” and more organised defensively in his short time in charge so far.
The Whites remain 17th in the table, but perilously close to the drop zone and only one point from the bottom of the table.
The 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea meant that Leeds have only conceded three times in three games under the Spaniard, but have only scored once in that time as well.
Leeds rarely threatened Chelsea’s goal, and most meaningful attacks into Chelsea’s half of the pitch were quickly snuffed out by the Blues or cheaply given away by Leeds attackers.
Quiz: Do Leeds United and Chelsea have the following 15 things in common?
What changes have Leeds made under Gracia?
Speaking on The Phil Hay Show, Hay outlined the main issue for Gracia so far, he said: “It is goals, isn’t it? It jumped out even more on Saturday. It’s more the bigger picture now since the turn of the year.”
However, Leeds have improved defensively, Hay added: “I think, to be fair to him (Gracia), being compact and being solid is something he’s done pretty well with this team. I quite like what Gracia’s done with the team so far defensively, it was a little bit tighter in that area.
“They aren’t giving away swathes of big chances, they aren’t massively porous, they do look pretty organised and know what they’re doing at the back. They are looking like a solid side.”
Despite the improvements defensively, Hay believes that goals are what keep you in the division and Gracia needs to work out a way quickly, he continued: “If it carries on like this and if goals are a problem, this is going to be a struggle right to the very end.
“And in terms of survival and staying up it’s going to be skin of your teeth stuff. They need to start scoring more, finding goals from various players in this team. They haven’t been coming.”
Despite some good early signs, Hay believes there is little time to waste in the battle to survive, he said: “They need to start winning games. He is going to have to find a way of delivering results pretty quickly.”
Leeds have not been as porous, as Hay outlines here. However, the goals issue is a glaring one.
Leeds have struggled in general in front of goal of late, with three goals in their last eight games against Premier League opposition in all competitions, which is fairly damning.
If Gracia can strike a balance where Leeds remain as compact but get enough good attacking quality on the field and in harmony with one another, then Leeds should find a way to survive the drop.
There is enough talent at Leeds to comfortably get themselves out of danger. The return of Rodrigo and some sustained Patrick Bamford form may be the difference in relegation and survival.