For Leeds United, it would seem that their bubble has well and truly burst.
The year of 2020 was a remarkable one for the Whites. They achieved promotion and sealed their passage to the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
On top of that, they smashed their transfer record to sign Rodrigo from Valencia. Yet, in 2021, things are coming to a halt.
They are yet to win this year and have now suffered three straight defeats. There is little wrong in being beaten 3-0 by Tottenham, but after losing by the same scoreline against Crawley, there was plenty of embarrassment.
It was a horrendous result, one epitomised by a haul of three very bizarre substitutions at half-time. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve against Brighton as they lost 1-0.
Their attacking flair has disappeared and that’s not been helped by the work rate and the overall performance of Rodrigo.
Clearly, he has been a disappointment so far. On his day, he is an enthralling talent and the way he cannoned an effort off the crossbar when Leeds drew 0-0 with Arsenal summed up what he’s about.
However, in three consecutive games now he has been abject, being hauled off by Marcelo Bielsa in each match.
When they played Crawley, he amassed just seven passes before being dragged off at half-time. Coincidentally, the summer arrival completed just four more passes against Brighton, despite playing 17 more minutes.
It was a lackadaisical display from Rodrigo, a man who completed the second-fewest passes of any Leeds player to start. To make matters worse, the Spaniard also didn’t achieve a single shot or key pass.
His attacking performance was woeful, but his lack of tracking back in midfield drew considerable anger from Luke Ayling.
Leeds Live reporter Beren Cross wrote in his post-match thoughts: “When Luke Ayling gave Rodrigo both barrels for not tracking his man late in the first half, he was summing up what many of us were watching.”
He continued: “In short, Rodrigo looked tired and off the pace at Elland Road. As Brighton drove a coach and horses through the middle of the rutted pitch, he was swimming through lactic acid in its wake.”
Indeed, his lack of touches (21) summed up his tired nature. He took possession on fewer occasions than substitute Pablo Hernandez and managed just two more than another substitute in Tyler Roberts. If that didn’t epitomise his unwilling performance, nothing will.
Rodrigo has now been poor for three games in a row and Bielsa will want to see a lot more from the club’s record signing. At the moment, he looks disinterested and incompetent when it comes to Leeds’ style of play.
That needs to change urgently.