Derby County manager Steve McClaren has underlined the main reason why his side lost to Leeds United on Saturday.
The Rams headed into the Championship clash at Elland Road high on confidence and were many football followers’ favourites.
However, it was the hosts who picked up the three points, Mirco Antenucci’s two unanswered goals proving to be enough for the Whites to register a 2-0 win.
Derby did not play the way they have done so far campaign, but credit must be given to Leeds for stepping up their game.
Former England coach McClaren has revealed that his Derby players were not at their best, while conceding that Neil Redfearn’s team did force them to make mistakes particularly with their tackles.
“Some of the players were five or 10 per cent below their best and it was one of those games where we started brightly,” Derby’s official website quotes the 53-year-old as saying.
“All of a sudden they got about us, frustrated us, got in their tackles and got inside our heads a little bit. We still felt we were in control, but it doesn’t matter what happens in the middle, it’s about what happens in both boxes.
“We defended very poorly for the two goals and I don’t think we would have scored a goal if we had been playing until midnight. Coming into this cauldron, against a good Leeds team, be at your best or you could get punished and that’s what happened.”
There were over 25,000 Leeds supporters at Elland Road and it made it tough for Derby, who still remain top of the Championship table.
Leeds have struggled for wins and points in recent weeks, but on Saturday they did rise to the occasion and ensured that the fans went home happy.
For Derby, the defeat at Elland Road will be something of a blip. For Leeds, the result could be the boost they have been looking for to kickstart their challenge for a top-six finish in the Championship this campaign.