Neil Redfearn admitted last night that Leeds United’s run of four straight defeats had come as a “reality check” – but insisted his players would not throw in the towel on their last three games of the season.
United’s head coach said the club’s poor results should act as a warning against complacency ahead of a summer in which Redfearn believes substantial work on their squad is needed.
Leeds have failed to pick up a single point since the end of the last international break, losing to Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City and Norwich City – a marked drop in form after a run in March which earned Redfearn a nomination for manager of the month.
United, who were in serious relegation trouble at the turn of the year, can still finish in the top half of the Championship but they are 22 points back from the play-offs and a further 11 short of league leaders Bournemouth.
The club travel to Charlton Athletic tomorrow, their penultimate away game ahead of a visit to Sheffield
Wednesday next weekend and a home clash with Rotherham United on May 2.
Redfearn agreed that the recent spate of defeats had come as a reality check, saying: “It probably is.
“Maybe it’s come at a time when it’s not such a bad thing to know we’re not in a position where we can just turn up for pre-season, add three or four players and start challenging. We’ve got work to do, obviously.
“But the lads have been tremendous to get us to this point. Looking at training and the way they’re applying themselves, they want to finish well. You can see it.
“Norwich on Tuesday was a really good response to a poor performance against Cardiff. The desire to win was there and that’s much more like us. In other (areas), if we’re a bit short then we’re a bit short. We’ve got to this position and we’ve done well but I’m not a magician.”
Redfearn was highly critical of United’s effort in a 2-1 loss to Cardiff last Saturday but he was happier with the commitment shown in a 2-0 defeat against Norwich at Elland Road, despite Alex Neil’s side outclassing his own in the second half.
“The players’ attitude has been first class,” Redfearn said. “I’ve never had a minute’s problem with any of them.
“They realise they’ve been in a tough season and a slog but they’re disappointed that we haven’t picked up results in the last four games. They’re buoyed by their own reaction against Norwich.
“There haven’t been many games where I’ve had to point out things about workrate. Cardiff was a strange one-off. Neil Redfearn’s sides don’t play like that. The one thing they do is compete and we did the other night.”