Leeds United can count their lucky stars that they managed to return to Yorkshire with a share of the spoils on Saturday evening.
In what was described as an “important point for us” by manager Marcelo Bielsa, the Whites were far from the better side in their late-evening Premier League clash at Brighton and Hove Albion.
Indeed, the Seagulls hit the woodwork three times and arguably, they deserved to go into the break with the lead.
The Argentine was quite clearly concerned with their play as he made a double change for the second half, and perhaps surprisingly Kalvin Phillips was one of the two casualties – as well as left-back Junior Firpo, who was a complete walking liability at the Amex Stadium.
He endured a torrid time up against Brighton star Tariq Lamptey, who continued his impressive comeback from injury.
The former Spain under-21 international, who is currently valued at just £12.5m following his summer move from Barcelona, picked up a very early yellow card in the fifth minute for his troubles up against the English dynamo.
Lamptey continued to be a nuisance as the first half went on, so much so that Firpo was walking a tightrope and could have easily received his marching orders – it’s no wonder Bielsa hooked him so soon.
Across the 45 minutes, he committed four fouls, which would go on to be double what any other player managed, even those who played the full 90 minutes.
The 25-year-old, who earns around £55k-per-week at Elland Road, was also lightweight as he won just six of his 12 duels (50%), and was wasteful too, losing possession eight times on top of a disappointing 68% passing accuracy, as per SofaScore.
It made the decision to bring him back into the starting XI over Pascal Struijk, who had done no wrong up until this point, a rather baffling one to make.
LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross ranked the 6-foot defender amongst United’s worst-performing players. ‘Did well to stay on as long as he did. Lamptey had his number from the start and once he was on a yellow you were fearing the worst. Did not justify the decision to drop Pascal Struijk. 3/10,’ he wrote.
On the above evidence, Bielsa may want to rethink his approach with Firpo. He was a total calamity down on the south coast, and with his team sat just one place above the relegation zone, he cannot afford many repeat performances heading into a busy festive period.
AND in other news, Beren Cross drops big Leeds United managerial update…