Leeds United: Lack of goals likely to determine Leeds’ exit from the play-off race

Matt Smith
Matt Smith
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If Leeds United were in the play-off zone and knocking on the door of promotion then I’d have classed a goalless draw at Middlesbrough last Saturday as a good result.

Boro are a decent side at home and you don’t get easy points from them, but when you’re down in mid-table as both of us are, Saturday’s result is two points dropped.

It was a disappointing game on the whole and once again Leeds were held back by the thing that has been troubling us all season – a lack of goals.

You only have to look at the stats for the entire squad to realise that when Ross McCormack doesn’t score, Leeds tend not to.

It’s been that way for a while now and it’s the biggest reason why we’re not in the top six.

If you compare us with Burnley, they’ve got two strikers with almost 40 goals between them.

Leicester get plenty from David Nugent and Jamie Vardy and QPR have enough players to help out when their forwards aren’t on song.

It’s interesting to look at Derby and Nottingham Forest too. Derby have a midfielder – Craig Bryson – who’s well into double figures.

Forest’s midfield are also pretty close to the 20 mark.

To be honest we’ll be lucky if our lads in the centre of the park get 10 between them.

We just don’t have goals coming from all areas of the field.

The frustration for me at Boro was that there weren’t enough players getting forward or giving themselves a chance to get on the scoresheet.

McCormack ploughed a lone furrow and it was very difficult for him to get at Boro’s centre-backs. It was only when Matt Smith came off the bench that things started to happen but it was too late by then and time ran away from us.

In the end we didn’t have a shot on target and Boro looked more likely.

That’s the second game running where chances have been few. At Brighton we created next to nothing and ended up losing a very tight match.

When I looked at these three away games – Brighton, Boro and now QPR on Saturday – I felt that we’d need to take at least five points from them to stay in touch with the play-offs but we’ve got one so far and next up is a very difficult game at Loftus Road.

As I said in my column last week, the time has come to go for broke.

We really don’t have much to lose because we aren’t going to go down.

I’m sure that with his manager’s hat on, Brian McDermott’s keen to establish some consistency and keep the results ticking over, and in the long term it would do the players good to settle into a rhythm again.

But as much as a draw at Boro might look like a decent result, it’s really two points dropped on the sides who are leading the way.

The likes of Leicester, Burnley and Derby have been so consistent recently.

Quite a few of us probably thought Derby and Burnley might fall away but they’re sticking in impressively and they’ve done the hard work already.

The three clubs who are over 60 points are guaranteed to be in the play-offs and in my opinion we’re chasing one place now.

Reading, in sixth, are the only side in danger of being caught and dropping out of the play-offs during the run-in.

We’re not a million miles behind them but the gap is significant and on top of that there are another four clubs between us and sixth.

That’s why at this stage of the season managers always talk about concentrating on their own results.

You have weekends when results go for you and weekends when you ‘get away’ with a draw or a defeat but ordinary form will always catch up on you eventually.

Leeds won’t catch Reading simply because Reading suffer a loss of form. We’ll only catch them if our own results improve massively.

This is a make-or-break period for us.

By the time we’ve played Reading at home in three games’ time, I reckon we’ll know whether the season has a twist in the tail.

But first up, a result at QPR is absolutely crucial – and, for me, it’s a game we have to win. We’ve reached that stage now.

Thomas Christiansen

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