David Prutton: Manchester City and Liverpool parallels in Leeds United's fight for promotion with Sheffield United

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
LEEDS UNITED now have a nice little cushion in the second automatic promotion spot but I’d stress the world ‘little’.

The next couple of games over this Easter weekend are pivotal because of the quick turnaround and the type of opposition they are playing in Wigan Athletic at home and Brentford away.

But it’s very much in Leeds’ hands.

Sheffield United will be without Billy Sharp and Chris Basham, who are injured, and you have to feel for them.

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As much as we talk about it from a Leeds point of view, you have to look at how Sheffield United have gone about their business and the commitment and quality they have shown over the course of the season.

We talk about how well Marcelo Bielsa has done with a group of players that were fair to middling in the Championship but what Chris Wilder has done with a group of players that he brought up from League One has been nothing short of phenomenal.

But, if you are of a Leeds persuasion, then you are just settled on your own games and they have been able to sit there and soak up a bit of the pressure and respond when the pressure has been on.

Leeds’ fans can take comfort from the fact that, so far, when their team has been asked questions, more often than not they have answered them.

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Ten points will see Leeds promoted and you have got to expect them to get them. But, if people are saying that Sheffield United are now gone, I can’t think for a second that will be the case.

As much as Chris Wilder has said over the course of the season that his side are doing well just to be up there with regards to budget, they have been fantastic as a squad, so they deserve to be where they are.

You get the feeling that leaders Norwich City are relatively home and hosed, although it’s not completely done and dusted.

But if you look at the Premier League you have got two very, very good teams pushing each other on in Liverpool and Manchester City and, with Leeds and Sheffield United, it’s the same.

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They have pushed each other on and there has been a real commitment to making sure there is pressure on the other one throughout the course of the season.

Whoever ends up second will be a very worthy winner of that second automatic promotion spot. Tomorrow’s clash against Wigan will be very tough. You can look at what Wigan did against Norwich but that was at home and we know they are very good at home and they have got the majority of their points there.

They will take confidence from that and will know that Elland Road is a tough place to go to and also because of the very nature of what the game is and the fact that the place will be absolutely bouncing.

It is going to be very tough for Leeds but it’s up to them to manage expectations of themselves and the fans and the game and produce what they produced last time out, which was a patient and dominant display that yielded three points, a clean sheet and a goal.

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It’s the same again and, if you are Marcelo Bielsa, you are saying exactly the same thing to your players.

Leeds then go to Brentford, who had that torrid period when Thomas Frank took over, which coincided with Dean Smith leaving. They were already on a downward spiral before he moved off to Villa but, if you take out that horror run of 10 or 15 games, then they would have been right up there in the mix with the play-off teams.

You have got to be very wary of teams like this with Romaine Sawyers and Neal Maupay and very good goalscorers.

Defensively sometimes they are questionable but they really do back themselves to out-score the opposition – and they play some very good football.

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It will be tough down there and a different proposition to Wigan at home.

But, if you want to go up promoted automatically, then these are the games you have got to manage and get through.

It’s mathematically possible for Leeds to go up on Bank Holiday Monday if they take four points more than Sheffield United do over these next two games and that would be unbelievable from a Leeds point of view.

But, from a Sheffield United point of view, it would be the kind of implosion that you would not expect from Chris Wilder or his side, and they have got strength in depth off the bench.

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Basham came off against Millwall but Gary Madine came on and scored the goal that ended up getting them the point against Millwall.

They have got a better squad than people give them credit for.

They have got a lot of experience in there and there are players that have come to the party because they understand what Sheffield United have done, what they are about and the way that Chris Wilder goes about his football.

You can’t think that is a one-man team and there have been times where Wilder has rested Billy Sharp and they have gone and got points.

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Maybe there was half a mind on that, preparing the side for when their talisman is not there.

For Leeds, promotion on Monday could happen but, on the flip side, both teams could come out with six points.

Then you would be in the same position and creeping towards the last day.

I’d keep the champagne in the wholesalers for now, let’s not tempt fate.