Noel Whelan: New Leeds signing is a luxury and unsuited to certain games
By Alex Stevens
Noel Whelan has slammed new Leeds signing Pablo Hernandez as a “luxury” and unsuited to “aggressive matches”.
The Spain international played the full 90 minutes of Leeds’ 3-2 Championship defeat to Yorkshire rivals Barnsley on Saturday evening but did not influence the match as much as was expected.
The playmaker’s contribution was criticised in the aftermath of the match by former Leeds striker Noel Whelan, who claimed a no-holds-barred second tier encounter does not suit him if he cannot get on the ball.
“Leeds didn’t utilise Hernandez enough – our passing wasn’t crisp enough, accurate enough,” Whelan told BBC Radio Leeds.
“Sometimes, when you need that bit of stability in those central areas, he just looked off the pace. And maybe your flair players, your luxury players – maybe they’re not the best in aggressive games like this.
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“This should, in theory, have been a game for Hernandez, as he’s clever and will find spaces, but you have to be a little bit more than that. He can’t be a difference if the others aren’t on it and don’t open up those spaces.”
Leeds took the lead through in-form marksman Chris Wood, who has been the subject of a mega-money transfer to China in recent days, but could not contain a dynamic Barnsley side.
Three goals in nine minutes either side of half-time gave Paul Heckingbottom’s side a two-goal advantage and, although Wood gave Leeds hope with his second and 19th of the season from the penalty spot, the hosts ran out deserved winners.
It was Hernandez’s second match since completing a permanent move to Leeds from Qatari club Al-Arabi.
The Spaniard, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Elland Road, signed a contract in the second week of January that runs until the end of the campaign and has the option of a further 12 months.