I don’t see relegation as a concern for Leeds United but I’m equally certain that we can’t afford for this run of defeats to go on forever.
It’s also clear that we need to be beating teams like Millwall to make sure there’s no chance whatsoever of us getting dragged into the scramble at the bottom of the Championship.
We’re 14 points behind the play-offs, taking goal difference into account, and realistically out of contention. A 15-point gap between us and the bottom three would be more than enough to put us out of the relegation reckoning too. Claim a win against Millwall on Saturday and all the threat disappears.
What you tend to find at this time of year is that teams who’ve struggled right the way through start to enjoy a little spurt. Charlton nicked a last-minute winner against Bournemouth on Tuesday night and their results have picked up recently. Yeovil Town are fighting on too and its difficult to call the bottom three at the moment.
Just as clubs who hit form at the right time can slip into the play-offs late on, sides who lose form when it matters can also get sucked in easily. We can really do without that this season and I honestly don’t see much risk to the club but a victory is well overdue and this weekend is a game the players should win.
They performed better at Burnley and the scoreline there was unlucky. Burnley are in a groove and everything is going their way at the moment but Leeds were right in that match all the way through and the goals Burnley scored were soft.
The interesting thing for me at Turf Moor was the attitude of our fans. We took a large crowd to Lancashire – we take a large crowd everywhere to be fair – and I was really impressed by how supportive and positive they were.
I made a point of looking at the response after the heavy defeats to Reading and Bolton and I wasn’t sure if it would be good or bad. A week like last week tests the patience of everyone and, let’s be honest, this has been a very disappointing month as a whole.
A few weeks ago we were looking at the play-offs and hoping that five home games from seven would fire us up the league but the results have gone wrong and realistically we’re not going to make it into the top six. Something strange would need to go on for that to happen.
But I didn’t see any sign of mutiny or anger among the fans at Burnley. They could be happier, no doubt about that, but they’ve not given up on the team and I don’t think they’ve given up on the manager either. We’d all like the results to be better, and Brian McDermott most of all, but I found the mood at Turf Moor quite telling.
What we’re all looking for now is a strong finish – not because there’s much chance of us going down or much chance of us finishing in the play-offs but because the squad need to find some form and confidence heading into another important summer.
The close season always looks much more challenging if you end the campaign on a low. It would do the squad good to remind themselves that they can play better and that are capable of picking up good results on a consistent basis.
This for me has been a Jekyll and Hyde year. I’ve seen some very impressive performances from Leeds – performances where I thought the whole plan was clicking and coming together – and some pathetic performances too. It’s been massively unpredictable which, in a way, is what you’d probably say about the club as a whole.
This weekend the players owe the supporters a big performance at home. There’s been some suggestion that it’s tougher for them to play at Elland Road than away from home but I don’t go along with that. As someone who used to play for the club, it doesn’t make sense to me.
Every time you’re at Elland Road you’ve got 20,000-plus behind you. And not a single person in that crowd wants anything other that the right result. They’re not looking for the players to do badly and they’re not looking for the team to lose. Quite the opposite.
The support is there and it always has been, despite the tough times and the set-backs. All the fans have is a desperate desire to see the club moved forward and the team play well.
Good footballers rise to an atmosphere like Elland Road’s and react to it. They feed on the fact that from the first whistle, 95 per cent of the crowd around them are on their side. If the players feel out of form at the moment then I understand that. But playing at Elland Road should be one of the things that helps them get it back.