'Absolutely done' - The one Leeds United take-out must and 'should' be top 2 view: David Prutton

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Automatic promotion 'could' still happen for Leeds United. That's the disclaimer that I have always done with this column, writes DAVID PRUTTON.

If the maths work then, yes, it could happen. If Huddersfield Town pull out a result and performance at Ipswich Town of which we have not seen the like at all this season then Leeds have got a half a chance. Obviously Leeds then need to do their bit against Southampton today.

I suppose if you are a Leeds fan and you are watching the Huddersfield Town boss comprehensively pull the team and the club apart then you are probably thinking 'oh, I wonder what performance we are going to get from them at the weekend'. But the maths work, stranger things have happened and Leeds have got to keep believing.

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We are at the Ipswich game today for Sky Sports and we will quite obviously be keeping a keen eye on everything as it unfolds. From a broadcasting point of view, there's potential for fireworks.

EPIC BATTLE: Between Daniel Farke, left, and Kieran McKenna, right, at the helms of Leeds United and Ipswich Town. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.EPIC BATTLE: Between Daniel Farke, left, and Kieran McKenna, right, at the helms of Leeds United and Ipswich Town. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
EPIC BATTLE: Between Daniel Farke, left, and Kieran McKenna, right, at the helms of Leeds United and Ipswich Town. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

But if you are looking at form, if you are looking at what teams have done during the course of the season then you have got a team in Ipswich who absolutely knows where the back of the net is against a team in Huddersfield who are all but mathematically down. You would presume there to be only one winner – but we all know that the Championship and football isn't always like that.

For Leeds, the one thing to take away from last weekend's defeat at QPR is get that performance out of your system, definitely. Yes, the defeat might have put paid to anything automatically. But if you chuck one of those in in the play-offs then you are done, absolutely done.

Southampton aren't remotely insurmountable in today's fixture. They have shown what they're capable of in both good and bad ways. They went on that wonderful long unbeaten run and they were very much in the chat for potentially gate-crashing the top two.

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But then they had that Cardiff result, albeit one in which they had decent chances and then Leicester City were just ruthlessly effective in putting them to the sword 5-0. Now they find themselves bouncing into the Leeds game in which you have got two teams that need to react and two sets of supporters that are understandably thinking ‘come on then, we have done our bit, you've been great for two thirds of the season but there's been a third part of the season which is leading to you being outside the top two.’ It's not a straightforward game for Leeds and Russell Martin and Southampton will want to hit the play-offs with some real momentum.

If you are talking about who ‘deserves’ what then Ipswich have spent 192 days in the top two whereas for Leeds it's 55. So no. Leicester have been the best team, Ipswich look like the second best team and that is potentially what the top two will be. For Leeds, there might be an element of 'we were in the top two'. But consistently, Leicester and Ipswich have been the best.

Sometimes you look at it with your own eyes and there's been some real high points. That game against Leicester at Elland Road really sticks in the mind because of the wonderful atmosphere. But if you are breaking it down, Leicester were the far better team for 75 minutes and should have been out of sight, absolutely out of sight, but they weren't and Leeds created one of those magical nights at Elland Road.

I can totally understand a 'should be in the top two' kind of thing from a Leeds perspective, especially up against a side that was in League One last season. But that just goes to show and puts it into sharper focus just how good Ipswich have been how good Kieran McKenna is.

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Whites boss Daniel Farke has got to be pragmatic and respectful enough to aim his chat about what possibly comes after this as a play-offs chat because he knows. He knows how tough it is and he has always held himself very classily. Even with his Norwich City connections, I think there will be an element of him that maybe not even begrudgingly but quietly thinks ‘fair play to you Kieran and fair play to you Enzo Maresca at Leicester.’

Enzo had the biggest wage bill and that pressure on them to instantly bounce back and Ipswich have blown other teams out of the water. In that kind of professional fraternity, yes, they're ultra competitive and yes they are going up against each other. You can chuck Russell Martin into that and David Wagner at Norwich City, Carlos Corberan at West Brom and potentially Liam Rosenior at Hull City too. But from all of them, there will be a respect for a job unbelievably well done.

If there are fans that think Leeds 'should' be going up automatically then I totally get that. With the way that the season has gone and with the ebbs and the flows, I think to finish third would be relative success before a ball is kicked.

But even though there was consternation about who the boss would be and who would be there to actually wear the white shirt come the first game of the season, you absolutely are a former Premier League team and you absolutely are one of the favourites to go back up. That's how it should be and the last time Leeds were in the Championship, albeit with a slightly different make-up of squad, they were the best team under Marcelo Bielsa, hence the fact that they won the title.

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Without sounding very boring and stats based and depending on how you interpret what you see with your own eyes or what you value in football, the team that finishes at the top with the title is the best team. You might say that Ipswich have entertained in a different way and that Leeds have entertained in a different way. But it doesn't matter as Leicester are the best team because they are the champions. They are the title winners so they are the best team. Like Leicester, Leeds were a Premier League team as recently as last May and they absolutely had to have aspirations of finishing in the top two.

But from what I've seen and unfortunately it might stick in the craw. they will have been potentially pipped to the top two by better consistent teams and that's just the way it has been, not necessarily better players, but better teams. The squad that Ipswich have put together with the additions in January has been nigh on perfect from Kieran.

Then you look at what Leicester City have got as a squad and it is a Premier League squad that potentially might look very different by the time the Premier League starts next season because of the potential need to sell players and balance books.

I know that doesn't help Leeds fans thinking ‘what if’. Sometimes in sport and professional sport especially, there'll be recriminations and a potential season post mortem ahead of the playoffs - or whether the miraculous happens and then see where we go from there. But I think even with the staunchest of Leeds hats on, the practical Leeds United fan will look at Leicester and Ipswich and say ‘fair play to you’ if that's how it ends up.

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You don't luck your way into the top two, you work your socks off and there is quality there for everyone to see, just as there has been with Leeds if you are a West Brom side or a Norwich side that has seen Leeds at the top end of the division. Norwich have guided their way into the play-offs. There will have been a Norwich fan looking at Leeds thinking ‘well, why can't we do that?’ It's all relative and how you process it and what you expect from your club.

Daniel Farke has labelled the possibility of the play-offs as another Leeds ‘bullet’ to fire and of course you could fancy them to win them. Why not?

Just because Leeds United teams in the past have been rubbish in the play-offs? Is there anybody even still around at Leeds that would have remotely experienced that for Leeds? Nobody is there that would have stunk the place up the last time they were in the playoffs. That is the history, that is the hoodoo that comes with that particular statistic.

But this is a professional outfit that should be geared up to win and handle pressure. Yes, they didn't do it against QPR. So what? You move the hell on. If Leeds' players are going to sit there and stew in their own juice then they are in the wrong profession. The next game is there to get your stuff back on track.

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