West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic has lauded the Elland Road faithful for their support of Leeds United as the Whites beat his Baggies 1-0 on Tuesday night, via quotes by Leeds Live.
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Bilic’s Hawthorns natives travelled to West Yorkshire as the only unbeaten side remaining in the Championship after taking five wins and four draws from their opening fixtures of the campaign, but succumbed to their first defeat after Ezgjan Alioski scored the winner in the 38th minute.
Leeds have endured various troubles in recent weeks at seeing out fixtures, having conceded late on to Swansea City and Derby County, and spurning numerous chances to score against Charlton Athletic.
Tuesday night’s clash with promotion rivals West Brom was much of the same for the Whites as Marcelo Bielsa’s Elland Road outfit fashioned 19 shots on Sam Johnstone’s net, with nine on target and forcing the 26-year-old into eight saves.
The Baggies’ number one also collected two crosses and parried danger twice, per WhoScored data, but could do nothing to prevent Alioski’s strike finding the net and seeing that Leeds overtook the Baggies for the top spot in the second tier.
Speaking after his side were beaten, Bilic shared that one of his big takes from the game was the ‘aggressive’ atmosphere created by the Elland Road faithful, who left their mark on the Croatian.
“They are a good crowd, they are a very aggressive crowd,” he said. “I would say one of the most aggressive I’ve played. They put pressure on the referee.
“It’s Leeds, you know. This is Elland Road. It’s very well known for that, so it’s not easy to not come under that influence. It affects you a bit. Sometimes it’s the last ten minutes, sometimes it lasts until half-time.”
Swansea can take the top spot in the Championship for themselves with a win over Charlton on Wednesday night.
Bilic lauding the well documented hostile atmosphere the Elland Road fanbase create for an opposing side is not without note, as the Leeds faithful have also seen their support questioned at times.
As the Whites sought promotion last season and results began to dip, former United defender Danny Mills told Sky Sports (via The Boot Room) that the support shown and pressure from the rafters can be draining on the players.
The pressure is only natural, though, with Leeds being out of the top flight for so long, and the players coping with that mentally is something Bielsa must manage carefully.
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