When Marcelo Bielsa picked his team to face Crawley Town on Sunday afternoon, he will have been looking towards his senior players to lead by example.
Starting alongside the less experienced players in Ian Poveda, Jamie Shackleton and Leif Davis were likes of Kiko Casilla, Kalvin Phillips and Pablo Hernandez.
However, all three of them failed to put in a performance of any merit.
Casilla was disastrously bad between the posts and was at fault for the first two goals, letting the ball through his hands for the opening strike and then somehow allowing it to squirm through him for the second.
Yet, Phillips was also laboured and lacking confidence. A host of his passes went astray and the England international allowed Nick Tsaroulla past him far too easily when Crawley took the lead.
The blame can’t be directed entirely at the defence, though. Going forward, Leeds wasted numerous chances in the first half which considering they had a £43m duo in Rodrigo and Helder Costa up front, simply wasn’t good enough.
The supply line from Hernandez wasn’t particularly good, however, and he deserves the brunt of the criticism. He has started just twice in the Premier League this season and his performance at Crawley summed up why he hasn’t played more often.
Hernandez has been a wonderful servant to Leeds but on Sunday, the 35-year-old was particularly poor, putting in a display that was described as “rusty” by Leeds Live journalist Beren Cross at full-time.
It’s hardly surprising that was the case. The Spaniard hasn’t started a game of football since the 4-1 defeat to Leicester at the beginning of November and it showed.
The experienced midfielder was successful with just 67% of his passes and fired his only two attempts at goal wide of the target.
Because of the way Leeds were chasing the game in the second period, he had to come deeper than Bielsa would have liked. Consequently, he was playing long balls forward rather than short passes. That meant that he tried a colossal 22 long balls – 11 of which were successful.
Hernandez might be ageing but this was the perfect opportunity to show why he is deserving of a place in the Premier League side.
On a day where the manager needed his experienced players to stand up and be counted, one of his star men was anonymous.
The veteran deserves to be benched against Brighton next weekend. Bielsa will not be happy at all.