Andy Ritchie: Fulham game is a case of ‘don’t lose’ rather than ‘must win’

Chris Wood celebrates his seccond goal at Birmingham.
Chris Wood celebrates his seccond goal at Birmingham.
0
Have your say

LEEDS might not have played very well at Birmingham City on Friday – but it’s three points.

Birmingham were by far the better side but you have got to take your chances and Chris Wood is on fire at the minute.

Alfonso Pedraza celebrates scoring his side's third goal at Birmingham.

Alfonso Pedraza celebrates scoring his side's third goal at Birmingham.

Alfonso Pedraza also came on and made an instant impact and all you can say is that the game is out of the way and I don’t think it matters where you get your points from or how you get them. And certainly judging by the Leeds fans at Birmingham, they didn’t care two jots!

Birmingham is never an easy place to go. The first Leeds goal was really right out of the blue and a fantastically opportunist finish from Wood.

That just knocked Birmingham a little bit. Leeds managed to get a little bit of a foothold and then lost it again but the second goal just gave them a little bit of impetus to go and get the third goal.

And I don’t think it really matters how they play at the moment. I just think Garry Monk is very happy with what is going on.

Garry Monk in the stands at Birmingham.

Garry Monk in the stands at Birmingham.

He’d like them to have played better, definitely, but he will be happy with the three points. He will take them away and the next game is the one that you concentrate on.

Tomorrow’s trip to Fulham is obviously next – with Fulham being the team directly outside of the play-off places – and I just think Leeds need to get something out of it.

They’d love to win it, obviously, but don’t lose. I think that would be the message to the players from Garry. They will know that they didn’t play particularly well at Birmingham but they have got a kind of steel to them that Garry seems to have instilled in them whereby when they don’t play well, they are still able to grind out results.

It is a big game at Fulham. Garry won’t want to make a big thing about it but I think it’s just a case of ‘don’t lose’.

Leeds are not assured of a play-off place yet. I wouldn’t think that anybody would say it’s done and dusted yet. The players should not feel that way because it’s definitely not over until that last game of the season.

That’s when it is over and every manager should be saying that to his players and I am sure Garry will be doing that. He will be drumming it them into them that you have got to play in the moment but you don’t take anything for granted in football.

In terms of how Leeds set up at Fulham, it could be a difficult one.

I’m not sure whether Garry thinks they can just go and defend and not get beaten and whether he thinks that’s a trait that they have got – or whether he thinks their best form of defence is to attack. It might be something that he does and he might change the way he wants to play.

Obviously they played a little bit differently at Birmingham which didn’t seem to work so he might just jettison that one and go back to what the players know and feel confident with. That might be the way he will set up.

But Leeds have also closed the gap to the top two now and just as you say you don’t take anything for granted with the play-offs, anything can happen on that flip side of the coin with the top two if you keep doing what you are doing.

It’s a fine balancing act when they are in a position like this.

You have got to be positive and not be negative and convey that to the players.

But you have also got to make sure that the players don’t take anything for granted.

I have been in that situation at Barnsley and it’s something that comes naturally to you.

I don’t think Garry will be thinking about it, it’s just a natural instinct that you have got as a manager that you just do things.

I didn’t find myself sitting at home, wondering what I should be saying and doing. It just sort of flowed.

And Garry has got enough experience so that he will know what to do and the players have just got to do their jobs and be very focused.

If I had to make a prediction, I think Leeds might get a draw there – I think it might just be a score draw – 1-1 or something like that.

I think Garry would be very happy with that.

Leeds United's players celebrate Gjanni Alioski's goal against Middlesbrough.

David Prutton: Judge Leeds United after tomorrow’s game at Barnsley