Whites were recently 11 points clear of sixth-placed Fulham… but now are three points behind with two to play after poor results
POSSIBLY for the first time since the season started at Elland Road, Leeds have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
The expectancy level at the clubn had risen by the turn of the year when we were third in the table and looking pretty much nailed on for at least a top six spot.
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But recent form and confidence has drained away and Norwich City – who were expected to challenge for promotion themselves before the season started – have turned in some very impressive results recently.
Although that can be easier with absolutely no pressure on them now.
With a full house in attendance, the pressure will be on for the Whites to dramatically change their form in April to get the result everyone wants in West Yorkshire.
Leeds United currently lie seventh in the Championship table with just two games to play knowing losing to Norwich at home on Saturday will rule them out of contention for the play-offs.
The Whites were once 11 points clear of Fulham in early March, albeit at a time when the West London club had games in hand – but a very poor run since last month’s international break leaves Garry Monk’s side dependent on results elsewhere for the first time this season.
Fulham host Brentford on Saturday while Sheffield Wednesday, who are five points better off than Leeds, travel to Ipswich Town.
Reading, the only other top-six side who United can catch, play relegation threatened Wigan Athletic at the Madejski Stadium.
Here are the permutations:
- Leeds need, at a minimum, four points from their two matches to have any chance at reaching the play-offs.
- If Wednesday (away) and Fulham (home) win on Saturday, Leeds will miss out – requiring a very unlikely 13-goal swing on Fulham on the final day.
- If Wednesday draw at Ipswich and Leeds win against Norwich, Leeds can overtake the Owls on the final day of the season with a three-point swing.
- If Wednesday lose and Leeds win, Leeds will need to overturn a two-point gap on the final day.
- If Fulham draw against Brentford, Leeds will move to within one point of them with a win.
- Fulham and Wednesday meet on the final day of the season at Hillsborough, meaning if both sides lose on Saturday and Leeds win, the Whites could secure the play-offs with a win on the final day of the season at Wigan.
- If fourth-placed Reading lose both of their remaining matches, Leeds would overtake Japp Stam’s side with two wins.
When Monk accepted the head coach job at Elland Road in June, the club were asking him to start from the beginning; their seventh manager or head coach in just two years.
The club, fully aware of a mass feeling of disappointment, promised refunds on season-ticket payments if United finished outside the play-offs – a responsibility made by the club of more than £1m – but they did not burden that initiative on Monk’s shoulders.
In his view and the view of most supporters in LS11, the success of this season is the chance of promotion in and of itself.
If it had been mentioned at the start of the campaign men in white coats would have taken people away.
But with ownership at the club now seemingly a lot more stable under Andrea Radrizzani, there will be a huge amount of excitement going into next season regardless.
With the famous snooker event taking place down the road in Sheffield, the Whites might require a 147 break to get back into the play-offs.
But, if they succeed and the rest falter, they will be right on cue again to pot a big prize in May.