Leeds United assistant boss Pep Clotet is ready for a “full-on” performance from Fulham tonight – but believes the Championship table is putting the pressure on Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.
Clotet said he expected a crucial meeting at Craven Cottage to live up to its billing with Leeds looking to defend and increase their eight-point advantage over seventh-placed Fulham.
Fulham are leading the battle to break into the Championship’s play-off places and the London club have the advantage of a game in hand over Leeds but Clotet said Fulham’s dip beneath the top six had put them in a position where “every point really counts”.
United would strike a significant blow by winning at Craven Cottage and Clotet, who will resume his usual duties this evening after taking charge of the dug-out while head coach Garry Monk served a one-game touchline ban at Birmingham City on Friday, ruled out any possibility of Leeds looking for a draw.
“We’re prepared to fight for every game and we take every game as very important,” Clotet said. “We’re preparing to win.
“After the game you look at the balance. Maybe a point will be a fair result or maybe you had a better game, or a worse game. You judge the result after. But before it you always have to look to get a win.
“For them the situation is a bit different than for us. Every point really counts for them and we understand they’ll go full-on because the closer they can get (to the top six) and the better results they have against the teams who are there, the more chance they have to go to the play-offs.”
Clotet said United’s playing staff had identified “a few weak points” in Fulham’s line-up but he warned that Leeds would be coming up against a confident side who have won six of their last eight home matches.
“They’re a team who are clear how they play,” Clotet said. “They’re very good at building from the back and they’re very good at keeping a high level of possession and using that possession to create chances.
“They have a few weak points but they’re a strong side, especially at home because they have the confidence to play their football. It’s not easy to battle.”
Leeds, however, climbed to fourth in the table with a 3-1 win at Birmingham and Clotet said: “We all agree we had a very good result on Friday.
“Obviously it gives you a boost going to Fulham but we know it’s going to be a very hard game. We have a very hard game in front of us.”
Meanwhile, Leeds United have signed young Limerick defender Paudie O’Connor on a two-and-a-half year contract.
The 19-year-old centre-back is linking up with United’s Under-23 squad after Leeds completed a deal to bring him to England from the League of Ireland side.
O’Connor made his debut for Limerick in 2015, a campaign in which the club were relegated, and was part of the team who won the first division title and promotion back to the Premier Division last year.