IT’S obviously a blow that Leeds United have lost centre-back Liam Cooper to a six-match ban because if Leeds get any more injuries or suspensions then they are going to have problems in that position.
They could have done without Cooper’s absence but these things happen in the game and you have got to get on with it, although his manager won’t be very happy.
Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings got a five-game ban for his stamp on Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic but that was after appealing it.
Liam didn’t appeal it and maybe it should have been a little bit less as a result.
If they are trying to keep parity with the Tyrone Mings incident then you go for five but I thought Mings got five because they appealed it as you always get extra if your appeal doesn’t succeed.
Cooper’s ban is a little bit harsh for me.
Pontus Jansson is also just two bookings away from getting a three-match ban. But you can’t say to him ‘don’t get booked.’ But you can’t say to a defender like Jansson to change your game because that’s the way he is.Andy Ritchie
Leeds have had a little bit of a minor blip with the two defeats at Reading and Brentford this week and Cooper’s ban – on top of that – is certainly not what head coach Garry Monk would have wanted. But it’s something that he is going to have to navigate around.
Pontus Jansson is also just two bookings away from getting a three-match ban for picking up 15 yellow cards.
But you can’t say to him ‘don’t get booked.’
You have just got to hope that he doesn’t.
It is difficult because he is a defender and you have to make challenges and sometimes you do mistime things.
But you can’t say to a defender like Jansson to change your game because that’s the way he is.
He is a combative player who puts his body on the line and you can’t change that.
If you try and change it, you are not going to get the best out of him and you are just going to have to take it on the chin. You just have to hope that he gets away with it. Whether or not the two recent defeats are just a blip or not, a lot depends on the big game against Preston at Elland Road today.
If Leeds get beaten again this afternoon then people will be right to have a little bit of concern and I’m sure that the manager might.
It’s definitely a big game against Preston but they are all going to be big from now until the end of the season. It’s about how Leeds react to defeats.
Garry has said that they are strong group and I think they are. They all look to be together, they all look as though they have got that camaraderie and that work ethic and that team spirit and it’s going to be tested.
It doesn’t make it easier when you have also lost a player like Liam Cooper.
The gap to the teams outside the play-offs is five points and whether that is enough or not depends a lot on this weekend.
If Leeds get three points, there are then only five games to go so it gets easier. It gets easier as each game passes and everyone of a Leeds persuasion can sleep easier in their beds.
They have just got to roll their sleeves up and maybe just get a scrappy win or whatever and move on.
At this time in the season, I don’t think you think about performance. It’s all about getting the points. If Leeds were to miss out on the play-offs after the season they have had then I think it would be a blow, of course. It would be hard for everybody to take.
But Garry has said before that they are ahead of schedule and I totally agree with him.
You leave a bit of pressure on yourself by doing so well as the expectation goes higher and it would be disappointing if they now miss out.
But people have got to try and keep it in perspective and that’s hard to do when you have just done this and just done that. When Garry took over, nobody was expecting them to get amongst the play-offs.
People maybe thought they might flirt with them but most thought that they wouldn’t be ready yet and that Garry would maybe need another window to get people in and move the club around a bit.
There’s obviously the new part-owner, Andrea Radrizzani, who has come in as well and, hopefully, he will get it right.
But I still think Leeds will get into the play-offs.