Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch felt his players looked "chained by the pressure" to perform for their fans as Aston Villa condemned them to a sixth successive Premier League defeat.
Marsch's first home game as manager ended in disappointment as goals from Philippe Coutinho, Matty Cash and Calum Chambers gave Villa a comfortable win.
Leeds' 15th league defeat of the season leaves them 16th in the table
Marsch said he was "surprised" by his side's "disjointed" display.
He said: "I heard a lot about Elland Road and the energy, and it was fantastic. I think we have a group that wants to perform for the fans so hard that they are almost in some ways chained by the pressure and aren't able to be clear and play with more confidence.
"We addressed that at half-time and our best spell was the 15 minutes after the break. At 2-0, it made it hard and we were not able to climb back into the match."
Marsch said it was important he and his players continued to "stay strong and be calm".
"It comes with performance," he said. "In the second half we were able to bring the crowd into the match and almost find a chance to create a couple of half-chances and maybe get a goal."
Having started life as Leeds boss with a 1-0 defeat at Leicester, Marsch will have hoped a noisy Elland Road crowd could help lift his side to three much-needed points.
But they managed just one shot on target as their problems at both ends were laid bare by a vibrant Villa outfit.
"It is a big job right now - a big job to help the group be confident, help them to be clear and to transition not just tactically but also with the overall mentality of what the team has been," added Marsch, who replaced Marcelo Bielsa at the end of February.
"I knew it would not be an automatic flip of the switch but you can see we have more work to do and not much time to get it done."
Leeds' attention quickly turns to Sunday, when bottom-placed Norwich visit Elland Road, which Marsch called a "version of a final".
"The key for us is not to carry the weight of the world," added the 48-year-old American.
"The key is to go step by step, stay calm and stay focused and disciplined for how we want to play and what we want to be.
"I'm trying to impart that on the players and it's not for lack of desire or work ethic, it's actually because of that, so I have to try to find a way to keep the group calm and create clarity for what we need on the pitch."
While defeat leaves Leeds looking nervously over their shoulders, Steven Gerrard's Villa are up to ninth after a third consecutive win and clean sheet.
Coutinho's deflected opener gave Villa a deserved lead at the break, and while Leeds began the second half with renewed purpose, Cash's low drive killed the game off before Chambers added a sublime third.
"I am very happy," said Gerrard.
"The team is in a fantastic place and the mood is good but we have to remain cautious and keep resetting ourselves. Things can change quickly in this league.
"The gameplan worked. The idea was to really dominate the middle of the pitch. We played through the press which gave us a lot of success through the transition.
"We were a real joy to watch going forward."