Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa said his team “will not abandon” their attacking principles despite being thrashed by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Sunday’s 6-2 reverse means Bielsa’s side are the first Premier League team this season to concede 30 goals.
It was also the first time a club side managed by the Argentine has conceded six goals since 1992.
“In the first half we had similar chances to the ones they had but we weren’t able to score,” said Bielsa.
“Our attacks came from combination play and their attacks came from the fact we were losing the ball in attacking positions, and they would transition from defence to attack. Our return was slower than their transition.”
Leeds continued to create opportunities after Liam Cooper had made it 4-1 before half-time, and looked like they might set up a nervous finish until Daniel James restored the hosts’ four-goal cushion midway through the second half.
“We could have come back throughout the game,” added Bielsa after watching Leeds concede four first-half goals for the first time in a Premier League match.
“There were always opportunities to come back into it.
“In the second half we played on an even keel until the 80th minute. After that they created chances easier than we could. We fought all game – that’s an obligation.”
‘We can’t play like that’
💬 Marcelo gives his thoughts on the game at Old Trafford pic.twitter.com/vQIFKthH3D
— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 20, 2020
Patrick Bamford was one of several Leeds players who left Old Trafford disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet.
The 27-year-old fired wide in a one-on-one with David de Gea in the first half before being thwarted by an offside flag not long afterwards.
Despite registering 17 shots – only nine fewer than United – and enjoying almost 60% possession, Bamford accepts the visitors’ performance was not good enough.
“We can’t play like that, but we don’t blame anyone or single anyone out,” Bamford told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s a team game, and we as a team haven’t performed to the level we should have today.
“Everyone is frustrated and disappointed but we’ve got to stick together.”
Leeds have already been involved in a number of high-scoring games this season, losing 4-3 to Liverpool at Anfield and beating Fulham and Newcastle 4-3 and 5-2 respectively at Elland Road.
They also suffered back-to-back 4-1 defeats at home to Leicester City and away to Crystal Palace in November.
“I can imagine for the neutral that watching Leeds is great all the time,” added Bamford.
“To be honest, today I’d have much preferred a boring 1-0 win, but it’s our style of play. Sometimes it works but if you’re one yard out of place you get picked off against the best players.
“If we play exactly the way [the manager] wants to, we’d win every game. But we’re human and we make errors and sometimes we’re not quite at it.”
‘You can’t start talking about league positions’ – Solskjaer
Bielsa’s counterpart Solskjaer was beaming at the final whistle, having just watched his side score six goals in a Premier League game for the first time since the 8-2 victory over Arsenal in August 2011.
Despite the emphatic scoreline, the Norwegian was keen to recognise the visitors’ contribution to an unforgettable contest.
“What a game of football,” Solskjaer told BBC Sport. “Unfortunately there was no crowd to watch it. This will go down as one of the great Manchester United v Leeds games.
“Leeds play the same way whether they’re 4-0 up, 4-0 down or at 0-0. They do that every three days, every game.
“We know we’re playing against a team with a certain style and we needed to match them physically.”
Solskjaer reserved special praise for midfielder Scott McTominay, who became the first player to score twice in the opening three minutes of a Premier League game.
“Scotty showed he was a striker when he was a kid,” said the 47-year-old. “He’s got it in him. He knows where the goal is. He’s such a strong boy physically.”
The victory lifts United up to third in the Premier League – five points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand – but Solskjaer is not getting carried away with his team’s steady rise up the table.
“It’s one third of the season gone,” he said. “You can’t start talking about league positions. We’ll keep carrying on, working hard.
“Maybe when we get to March or April we can take a look [at the table].”