Gjanni Alioski refusing to get carried away by Leeds United promotion talk
Leeds United full-back Gjanni Alioski admitted promotion felt “close” but said he was not ready to think about the finishing line yet with the Championship’s top end on a knife edge.
Alioski insisted he felt no nerves about an intense scrap for a top-two finish but warned that the run-in was still too long for Leeds to dwell on thoughts of reaching the Premier League.
United reasserted themselves emphatically last week with a 4-0 rout of West Bromwich Albion, producing their biggest and most comprehensive win of the season just three days after a defeat at Queens Park Rangers which provoked questions about their stamina.
The club hold second place in the table, between leaders Norwich City and Sheffield United in third, but the division’s top three are separated by just four points and Leeds are under pressure to maintain their impetus at Bristol City on Saturday as Sheffield United host struggling Rotherham United.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have been inside the Championship’s top six for the entire season and given the club their best chance of regaining Premier League status since United’s relegation 15 years ago.
The trip to Ashton Gate is one of 11 fixtures in front of Leeds but Alioski said the feeling of promotion drawing near was not a reason to focus on it.
“To feel it is good, the season is long,” he said. “But for 11 games we must only feel it game by game, not to feel what we might do if we win three or four.
“The most important thing now is to only think game by game because we are close. It would be a mistake to think we are too near because it (the club’s form) can go so quick.
“I’m never nervous and the bigger games are important. It's good to have pressure but not to be nervous. This year with this coach, it's sensible to enjoy the season; to work hard but also enjoy it. It's like a gift.”
Bristol City have been one of the Championship’s form clubs in the second half of the season, though Lee Johnson’s side - the last of the top-six clubs - are without a win in three games.
United took an easy 3-0 victory from Ashton Gate last season and are returning there with a crushing defeat of West Brom behind them, produced by a performance which was widely seen as their best under Bielsa.
Bielsa insisted that Leeds should not make too much of that result but Alioski said: “After a good performance it's not easy to repeat but I think it's good to watch the highlights again, to see how we played.
“People also thought that when we won at Aston Villa 3-2 (before Christmas) that it was the best performance and it's nice to beat every performance but now we must continue like this. It (the win over West Brom) was good but maybe not the best.
“If we go to Bristol City and concentrate there then we know what to do. The pitch is big which is good for football and I hope like last year we win 3-0. It's another final for us.”