I’m more than willing to admit that I was one of the people who wrote off automatic promotion when Leeds United lost to Swansea City last month.
The performance was terrible, the defence looked as bad as it had all season and a gap of eight points between Leeds and the Swans felt like a million miles. I’d have laughed at anyone who said second place was still a serious possibility.
But what do I know? Three games later and we’re talking about it again. In fact, the club are in such a good position that I’d be disappointed to hear any of the players at Elland Road settling for a place in the play-offs.
That’s still my tip, as it was at the start of the season, but overcoming a five-point margin to second position with nine games to play is not an impossible task. At this stage of the season, a deficit like that can disappear in the space of two games.
I spoke to Simon Grayson last week and he was making the point, as he has in the media all year, that this season will go down as a good one, whatever happens in the weeks ahead.
I won’t argue with that. But I’ll say this much – in no way will Grayson be happy if Leeds lie beneath the play-offs on the last day of the season. He’s a deeply ambitious manager and a very focused individual. People like him do not let chances slip through their fingers, or not without some feeling of regret.
Back in August, I’d never have suggested that the club should set the play-offs as their benchmark for a successful season. But with 37 games gone, they have no excuse for aiming any lower. Promotion is there for the taking and all you ask for at this late stage is a decent chance.
Several members of the squad at Leeds can feed on the experience of last season’s run-in, and that will count for something as they near the finishing line. Talent and ability always matter, but this is now a game of nerve as much as anything else. If the last two weeks are anything to go by, certain clubs should be worried. Leeds United aren’t one of them.
●With Leeds currently the Championship’s top scorers and Sheffield United fighting relegation there are bound to be goals at Bramall Lane this weekend.
Sportingbet are currently offering odds of 11/2 on more than five goals being scored between the two sides on Saturday.
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