Marcelo Bielsa challenged his players to prove their class by remaining at the top of the Championship as Nigel Adkins tipped Leeds United for promotion after a 1-0 win at Hull City.
An impressed Adkins warned that Leeds would “take teams to the cleaners” this season and claimed they and Middlesbrough were in line to go up with the clubs locked together on 22 points.
Tyler Roberts’ 51st-minute winner at the KCOM Stadium allowed Leeds to reclaim first place in the table after Bielsa’s side rode more missed chances to force a deserved victory.
United lead Middlesbrough on goal difference after 11 games, two points ahead of West Bromwich Albion who have a game in hand, and Roberts’ third goal of the season avoided fresh frustration following a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday on Friday in which Leeds passed up a string of opportunities.
That result followed on from a 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City, a loss that ended Leeds’ unbeaten start in the Championship.
Bielsa admitted his team were “not efficient enough” in front of goal at Hull but was pleased with a derby which United controlled from the early stages.
But asked if he was happy to be back at the top of the Championship, Bielsa said: “We'll have to demonstrate that we can stay top and demonstrate that we deserve it.
“If we take into account the last two games, we should have more points than what we do. The ranking doesn't illustrate what you deserve but what you get.
“The game tonight was harder in the last 10 minutes. Until then we controlled it, controlled the possession, controlled the field. But when you lead with a goal's difference, there is always a possibility to concede.
“We were not efficient enough and we closed the game with a different feeling to what it might have been.”
Adkins’ Hull are hovering above the relegation places but he was effusive in his praise of the squad built by Bielsa since Leeds appointed him in June.
Hull had fought out a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday and Adkins said: “Leeds and Middlesbrough play totally different football but both will probably finish in the top two at the end of the season.
“We've played against one of the best sides I've seen in the Championship for years. They're going to take teams to the cleaners. It wasn’t a level playing field.”
Bielsa’s only concern was a late injury to left-back Barry Douglas, who limped off with a muscle strain.
The defender will be assessed in the next 24 hours but is an early doubt for this weekend’s clash with Brentford.