JAVI GRACIA has a mammoth task to lift his battered Leeds United troops after they suffered their worst Premier League home defeat in history at the hands of Liverpool.

The 6-1 thrashing by the Reds followed the 5-1 humiliation against Crystal Palace eight days earlier, which must surely eat into the squad’s confidence.

They remain two points above the drop zone but their next three games – against Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth - could well determine their fate.

The successive hammerings mean they now have the league’s worst defensive record and Gracia has an almighty job in rectifying it.

He inherited a squad built on a forward-thinking approach. That was not working under the latter stages of the reigns of both Marcelo Bielsa and Jesse Marsch so the Spaniard has opted to instil a more defensive approach in an attempt to make United a more solid outfit.

The containment and counter-attack tactics require his men to be defensively disciplined and virtually error-free. It didn’t work against Arsenal, where they lost 4-1, and failed again at Elland Road against Liverpool.

For 35 minutes, Leeds’ system seemed to be going to plan. Liverpool had possession with no threat, while the Whites looked a dangerous on the break.

Then the mistake came. Junior Firpo ill-advisedly tried to knock the ball beyond Trent Alexander-Arnold, who clearly handled the ball, and seconds later the Liverpool man teed-up former Leeds target Cody Gapko to tap in the opener.

Leeds’ failure to protest vehemently about the decision, ratified by VAR, showed a lack of leadership and fire.

As so often with Leeds, one goal soon leads to another. Four minutes later Weston McKennie lost possession in midfield, Liverpool broke at speed and Mo Salah hammered a rising shot beyond Illan Meslier.

Luis Sinisterra gave Leeds a lift hen he robbed Ibrahima Konate a minute after half-time and dinked a cute finish over goalkeeper Alisson. Elland Road’s home fans had belief again but the atmosphere was punctured six minutes later when Diego Jota notched his first goal since last April.

After that Liverpool dismantled a befuddled Leeds with Salah putting the finishing touch to a fine move just beyond the hour to make it 4-1 and prompt many fans to leave the stadium. They knew what was coming, they had seen it before against Palace.

Jota knocked in a Jordan Henderson cross after 72 minutes and at the death substitute Darwin Nunez completed the rout with a side-foot finish.

With the four of the sides below them in the table losing at the weekend, the Whites have not lost any ground. However, their goal difference and confidence has nosedived after conceding 11 goals in two games.

Leeds totally disintegrated again and changes need to be made against Fulham.