David Prutton: Spygate done, now all about Leeds United holding their nerve
IT’S imperative for Leeds United that the ‘spygate’ episode is now done and dusted for them to be able to move on from it.
If you are a Leeds fan you probably saw the headline of Leeds fined rather than docked points and saw it as a bit of a relief.
But £200,000 is a hell of a lot of money to fine someone if no rule has actually been broken.
It was a break of etiquette really rather than a break of laws and it certainly sets a benchmark. You couldn’t see it ever happening again with everyone seeing what has happened. It’s a
bizarre thing to have happened over the course of the season and I don’t think anyone saw it coming.
It has been testing from a Leeds point of view, but at least it’s not points that we are talking about and nor should it be.
Leeds will also have to do without Kemar Roofe who is facing between six to eight weeks out with knee ligament damage which further heightens the importance of Patrick Bamford.
Bamford has now got to hit the ground running and stay fit.
There will be an extra pressure on him but strikers seem to like that though they are big shoes to fill, not just in term of the goals Kemar has scored but also the pressing he does. Kemar is a bit more explosive as a player and Patrick is a bit more languid in the way that he moves around.
But that’s not to say that either of them is right, it’s just bespoke to that particular player.
But Roofe has been playing in the no 10 role recently and it seems like Tyler Roberts will now be given a chance there.
It has been stop/start for him with his injuries and everything but he now has a great chance to come into the side and get regular appearances and help get Leeds over the line and physically he also brings something different as well.
It’s insanely tight at the top of the division now and West Brom have crept up very nicely.
Norwich are obviously still there and Sheffield United continue to punch so high above their weight that you can’t help but be impressed by them. But two wins from their next two games will take Leeds back to the top and that’s what they have got to do – hold their nerve and show that they can do it.
Over the course of the season so far, when there have been questions about Leeds they have managed to answer them.
Bolton at home and QPR away are both eminently winnable games.
I have seen Bolton a few times and they have always been in matches but they fail to get anywhere near the opposition goal or be ruthless and I think they will find that hard again against Leeds.
Leeds then go to QPR on Tuesday evening and QPR are incredibly unpredictable – which was shown in the Birmingham game when they got battered in the first half and then suddenly they came back flying, dominating in all areas. They just couldn’t put the game to bed with the way they fought back.
From a Leeds point of view, it will be a Tuesday night at Loftus Road which is a very tight ground and it will be a wonderful atmosphere for all involved but Leeds have got to be careful that they don’t encounter a QPR side that sees it as a potential cup final.
For Leeds, it’s got to be six points from these next two games. It helps them that Norwich and Bristol City and also West Brom and Sheffield United are playing each other at the top but Leeds have got to make sure they take advantage of that and see to business in the afternoon before the tea-time game between the Baggies and the Blades.
They have got to take care of their own results and it will be intriguing to see and a huge test of nerve and character.
Leeds then take on West Brom at Elland Road next Friday and for the neutrals it’s great. The action is coming thick and fast and West Brom are very, very capable of scoring the goals that could get them promoted.
But Leeds definitely owe them one from the reverse fixture down at the Hawthorns when they had a very rare off day. There will be that motivation there and West Brom are absolutely beatable but Leeds will have to be so careful that they contain their strikeforce and their way of playing that has put them very much hot on their heels.
You’d think this is make or break now but we all thought Leeds were done and dusted and in the play-offs two seasons ago. It’s going to be an exhilarating end to the season and any fan will now just want Leeds to get over the line because they have seen how well they have done.
But it’s a real test of them now as players, as people and as footballers under pressure. For whichever two teams get automatically promoted, it will be thoroughly deserved.