Leeds United 3 Reading 2: Five things we learned

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FRESH from witnessing the latest Leeds United game as part of a hectic April, Lee Sobot looks at five issues highlighted by Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Reading at Elland Road.

United will play Championship football next season

SHREWD PURCHASE: Leeds United's Toumani Diagouaga turns to celebrate his equaliser against Reading. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

SHREWD PURCHASE: Leeds United's Toumani Diagouaga turns to celebrate his equaliser against Reading. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Leeds have long looked safe from relegation such is the desperate plight of third bottom MK Dons but Saturday’s victory lifted United to 54 points and it is now mathematically impossible for the Whites to finish in the dropzone. As such, head coach Steve Evans has achieved his objective given to him by chairman Massimo Cellino upon his appointment which was to make sure Leeds are not relegated. That has been achieved easily with four games still to go.

Leeds could be looking at a top ten finish

Saturday’s success put United into the division’s top half - in 12th - and just three points behind tenth-placed Preston who Leeds visit on the last day of the season. Clearly, next Saturday’s visit to Hull City will be tricky but United by and large have a decent run in, with home ties against Wolves and nearly relegated Charlton also on the agenda. At the very least, Leeds should be finishing in the top half.

Chris Wood could clearly bag United 20 goals a season

Wood had a nightmare in front of goal in the recent 1-0 loss at Burnley in which he squandered two easy headers in front of goal, after which the New Zealand international received a barrage of stick. But fair play to the striker for bouncing back, first with a decent display in the win at Birmingham City and then with Saturday’s double - his first in a United shirt. Wood has missed a decent chunk of the season through two separate hamstring injuries but is now on 11 goals for the season with four games to go. It’s not impossible that he could get to 15 and with a full, injury-free season, the striker is clearly capable of getting to 20. It’s also worth remembering that Wood is still only 24 and doesn’t turn 25 until next December meaning there is definite scope to get better.

Brian McDermott remains all class

McDermott became extremely popular during his stint as head coach at Leeds and was always guaranteed a warm reception on his first return to Elland Road.

The South Stand boomed out a few “oh, Brian McDermott” chants and McDermott was quick to sing the praises of Leeds after the game, despite being naturally disappointed with Saturday’s result.

McDermott said: “I got a really genuine reception, I appreciated it. It was really genuine from the fans, not over the top because I didn’t do anything over the top here really. It was a really nice, genuine reception and they are good people, they really are.

“I did the best I could at the football club and I said to some of the younger players - coming to play at Elland Road you will learn an awful lot coming to a place like this. It’s a fabulous place, a real terrific football club and I hope that one day they will get back to the Premier League.”

Toumani Diagouraga is looking an excellent buy

Saturday’s game was United’s third consecutive fixture without on loan Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt who remains sidelined with a groin injury. Bridcutt is a class act as a holding, defensive midfielder but again his absence went almost unnoticed thanks to another very good display from Diagouraga who even got himself on the scoresheet. ‘Dave’ as he is affectionately known is starting to look like a real bargain buy having cost just £600,000 from Brentford and credit must go to Steve Evans for bringing him in. Saturday’s header was also Diagouraga’s first league goal for over three years.