Noel Whelan: When the going got tough, this senior Leeds player went missing
By Harry Sykes
Noel Whelan has told BBC Radio Leeds that Pablo Hernandez went “missing” during Leeds United’s promotion run-in.
The Yorkshire giants’ play-offs hopes are over following their 3-3 draw at home against Norwich, which means they cannot finish higher than seventh in the league this season.
Fulham will finish sixth to clinch the final play-off spot after drawing 1-1 against Brentford on Saturday, giving them a three-point advantage over Leeds with a far superior goal difference ahead of the final round of matches of the Championship season.
The post-mortem of Leeds’ season began in earnest on Saturday evening as pundits, fans and the Leeds staff analysed were the team fell short after pushing so strongly for promotion for so long.
Manager Garry Monk claimed many of the players in his youthful squad were not quite ready to deal with the pressures of maintaining a promotion challenge.
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Ex-Leeds striker Whelan took a different view as he claimed the more senior players had fallen short and name-checked playmaker Pablo Hernandez.
“I think some of the more experienced players haven’t show up at times, actually, for all Monk has said this squad isn’t ready,” Whelan, as quoted by the BBC Leeds live match blog (Saturday, 5.49pm).
“Vieira and Phillips have driven this team forward at times when Hernandez, for instance, has gone missing.”
Leeds lost four of their final seven matches of the season and won only one of them as they could not maintain the momentum of their strong form earlier in the campaign.
Hernandez was a nailed-on starter when fit and scored a stunning free-kick in the thriller against Norwich.
In 33 Championship matches over the season, the Spaniard scored five goals and supplied eight assists.
In other Leeds United transfer news, a stunning £14million bid is being prepared as deal edges closer with Premier League big hitters.