Noel Whelan hailed Leeds United’s play-off transformation following their “disgusting” defending in the final month of the Championship season.
United’s automatic promotion hopes were destroyed by three defeats and a draw from their final four league matches when a top-two finish was within their grasp.
But Leeds returned to winning ways with a 1-0 Championship play-off semi-final first leg win over Derby County at Pride Park on Saturday evening, secured by a Kemar Roofe goal.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, ex-Leeds striker Whelan claimed much of the blame for the team ending in the play-offs must be attributed to a defensive meltdown.
“The defending in the final matches of the season was shocking, disgusting at times,” Whelan told Football Insider. “The encouraging thing going into the play-offs was that we turn up against the big sides, as we did against Aston Villa and then Derby.
“It’s a real test because Derby are an excellent side. Even after the terrible performance against Ipswich, I was not too worried because I know what we’re capable of.
“When we’re concentrated and switched on, we are an outstanding side in all aspects of the game, apart from maybe finishing.”
Leeds conceded seven goals from open play in their final four league matches as well as that controversial walk-through goal ordered by Marcelo Bielsa against Aston Villa.
The clean sheet against Derby in Saturday’s triumph was their first since beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 early last month.