For as long as Simon Grayson has been manager of Leeds United, his players have been very dependable at home.
I wouldn’t say we’ve seen a massive change in that respect this season – 14 points taken from 24 on offer at Elland Road is a steady haul – but I feel as if the club need a resounding home win.
Our record is as good as West Ham United’s and comparable with most sides in the top half of the Championship, with the exception of Southampton. Their consistency at St Mary’s is unbelievable. But I’m looking for Leeds to get back to the sort of dominant, uncompromising displays we’ve come to expect at Elland Road.
You’d probably have to go back to the Hull City win in August to find an occasion when United took a team to the cleaners.
The wins against Crystal Palace, Bristol City and Portsmouth showed signs of nerves, and points have gone begging recently.
At the moment you can sense a bit of apprehension around the stadium on matchdays. I put that down to the immense expectation which surrounds our club. The players know they’re expected to win and turn on the style every time they play and that definitely raises the pressure on them.
When results at home aren’t going quite as you’d like, you can dig yourselves out of trouble with good wins on the road. After dropping four points against Cardiff City and Blackpool, back-to-back victories against Leicester City and Burnley were a big boost at the right time. But you can’t keep doing that forever and mixed home form catches up with you eventually. A good record at Elland Road is fundamental to Leeds’ chances of winning promotion in May.
The players got lucky at Burnley, no doubt about that, but they’ve suffered unfortunate results themselves this season. Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town stand out as games where major, contentious decisions took their toll. Ultimately, Leeds hung in the game at 1-0 down and kept themselves in a position to get something out of it. Sometimes when you’re playing poorly, that’s all you can do.
But despite Burnley losing, Leeds can still learn something from the way they started the game. They were all over us from the first whistle and really made the effort to dominate. They were stung by two late goals but they’d have been out of sight if they’d taken their chances. Occasionally you go unrewarded for playing well. More often than not, you get exactly what you deserve.
I always believe that clubs come to Elland Road expecting a barrage in the first 20 minutes.
If they’re given an easy ride, their confidence goes through the roof. Barnsley are in decent form and don’t need encouragement.
It’s vital that Leeds call the shots.