Matt Abbott: Leeds United are safe from relegation - and that’s what this season’s been about
Matt Abbott believes that even the most pessimistic Leeds fan can’t believe there’s any chance of being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
I don’t know about you, but I found it mightily refreshing to greet January’s transfer deadline with an indifferent shrug. Same as we’ve rapidly become accustomed to doing with the Championship table.
In years gone by, we’ve desperately prayed for the football gods to bless us with that magic missing jigsaw piece. Last year, we lost our wits waiting for an Eddie Nketiah replacement. In previous years, January arrivals have ranged from current starter Pascal Struijk to Laurens de Bock – a whole jigsaw puzzle by himself.
The fact that our only signing was a £300k pitch from Spurs is a glowing endorsement of our season.
Even Wednesday night’s victors Everton found themselves scrapping with Fulham to land Joshua King on deadline day. We all know that this is a Leeds side in transition, and it’s clear that there are areas to strengthen. But even the wildly pessimistic strand of our DNA knows that we’re safe from a relegation dogfight. And ultimately, that’s what this season is all about.
The Brighton defeat was a full-scale re-enactment of the No Man’s Land game between enemy soldiers on Christmas 1914. That their goal came through slick passing almost smarted as much as seeing Ben White marauding through midfield. And whilst the Everton game made our players look like they were auditioning for Benny Hill – and ultimately resulted in the same outcome – it was much easier to swallow. If we do have to lose every now and again, that’s how I want us to do it.
Maybe we can convince the FA to let us play the rest of this season’s fixtures away from home. Our trip to Newcastle was excruciating at best, but we still came back down the A1 with the spoils. And last weekend’s hammering of title challengers Leicester was the stuff that dreams are made of. The fact is, if we won our postponed tie against Southampton today, we’d only be six points from a European spot.
I’m not saying that we’ll qualify for Europe – not this year. But even just typing that is a buzz. And with the 49ers investing further in Radrizzani’s ambitions, you can almost smell the burger van on those glorious nights in Beeston.
You might think that’s crazy talk, but right now, nobody knows what to expect on a weekly basis. This is an asterisk season being simulated on Football Manager.
I’ll leave you with this thought. After the game on Wednesday night, I put talkSPORT on whilst I was washing up. They were discussing which centre-forwards Gareth Southgate should take to the Euros.
Harry Kane and Danny Ings were a given. But in third place, from the remaining options? Patrick Bamford of Leeds United.