SImon Grayson praised his players for a brave attempt to keep Leeds United’s season alive after the club rounded off their home schedule with a 1-0 win over Burnley.
United’s manager said his side had left the field at Elland Road with “no regrets”, despite seeing the Championship’s final play-off position slip further away from them on Saturday afternoon.
Leeds are three points behind sixth-placed Nottingham Forest with an inferior goal difference, and an unlikely set of results would be needed on the last day of the season for United to overhaul Forest’s advantage.
The make-up of the Championship could yet be altered significantly by a disciplinary hearing awaiting Queens Park Rangers, who claimed the title on Saturday but face seven charges relating to the signing of midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in 2009. The Football Association is set to rule on the charges this week.
Certain reports have suggested that QPR will face a severe points deduction if found guilty of breaching rules concerning third-party ownership of players and the use of unlicensed agents, but Neil Warnock’s squad are 19 points better off than Grayson’s ahead of their meeting with United on Saturday.
Leeds will complete their Championship season at Loftus Road, bringing to a close a campaign which held considerable promise for many months, and Grayson was pleased by his team’s professionalism in a deserved win over Burnley – secured ahead of Forest’s 5-1 rout of Scunthorpe United.
“The last thing we told the players was ‘believe and have no regrets coming off the pitch’,” said Grayson.
“We were dominant and we played well, with the ball and without it. On another day we could have won the game easily and we did what we needed to do. It was then down to other people to see what they could do.
“The players had something to prove and they wanted to send our home fans away with smiles on their faces. You’ve seen 30,000 here and there won’t be many bigger crowds anywhere in the country. Whether it’s our last home performance or not, we’ve sent them home in a positive manner.
“I still had hope and I never let myself dwindle away from the fact that we could achieve the play-offs. Strange things happen and might still happen. But the way we played was really encouraging.”
Ross McCormack’s 34th-minute goal – his first in a Leeds shirt – settled a one-sided meeting with a Burnley side whose own fight for promotion is at an end.
McCormack cost United a six-figure sum from Cardiff City in one of the most high-profile deals negotiated by Leeds in the summer transfer window, but the striker took eight months and 20 games to break his duck. His start on Saturday was his first since January 4.
Grayson said: “When I bought him, we looked like we were going to play 4-4-2 and he was going to be one of the strikers. Through injuries and a change of system, his opportunities have been few.
“He’ll have found it hard and frustrating but it’s a squad game. Whatever happens, we start again in pre-season and he’ll be fighting for an opportunity.”