In the end, Leeds United’s first game of the new Premier League season turned into a nightmare.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were thrashed 5-1 at Old Trafford by Manchester United, with the Whites blown away by a rampant attack led by a Bruno Fernandes hat-trick.
The Leeds manager had to make one significant pre-match call over Kalvin Phillips, leaving his talismanic midfielder on the bench given his lack of fitness. In his place, Robin Koch started in the anchor man role, and it was a position with which he never really got to grips whatsoever.
As per Sofascore, he was dribbled past twice over the course of the game (only Luke Ayling was beaten more) and managed just two tackles as United’s midfielders overran him and were too quick for him. In possession, Koch really struggled, completing just 78% of his passes, providing no key passes and actually having 17 fewer touches than goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
At half-time, former Leeds and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tore into the German’s positioning on BT Sport’s live coverage, saying that his marking was “criminal” in allowing one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League in Fernandes to spin off him for the home side’s opening goal.
Writing on Twitter, The Athletic’s Phil Hay said: “Not the only difference but Koch and Leeds haven’t been able to contain Fernandes. Was apparent in the first half too. Tough last half-hour coming up. #lufc”
Given that Bielsa trusted him to play the Phillips role in the middle of the park, Koch’s performance was nothing short of a shambles.
He looked all at sea defensively and didn’t have the composure in possession which the England international usually brings to the table either.
It was just an embarrassing display all round from Koch, and one which again shows why Leeds desperately need to sign some genuine quality cover for Phillips in the engine room.