HEAD coach Garry Monk has full confidence that Leeds United can seal a Championship play-off place by winning their final three league games – but is urging his Whites to “make it happen” from the off.
Leeds dropped out of the division’s top six for the first time since November after Easter Monday’s 1-0 loss at home to Wolves was compounded by victories for play-off rivals Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday.
The seventh-placed Whites now trail sixth-placed Fulham on goal difference but, as the Cottagers visit fifth-placed Sheffield Wednesday on the final day, United’s destiny remains in their own hands.
Three victories from the club’s last three games would definitely book a date in the play-offs, with this coming Saturday’s trip to sixth-bottom Burton Albion followed by a home clash with eighth-placed Norwich City and a trip to second-bottom Wigan Athletic on the final day.
And while Monk has full confidence that Leeds can sign off with three crucial wins, the head coach is urging his men to attack from the off in their remaining fixtures and not repeat the sluggish first-half display produced against Wolves.
“We have to try and make it happen ourselves the whole game in every one of these last three games,” said Monk.
“If you do it like that, you can always live with it, if it doesn’t quite happen or you don’t quite win a game. Had we played like we did in the second half against Wolves for the whole game and it didn’t quite happen, you can live with that.
“But what we can’t live with is the first 45 minutes where we were all waiting to see what happened.
“There’s a big difference there and I said that to the players at the end.
“We tried to make it happen in the second half and we needed to start the game like that and play the whole game like that.
“Now we can’t afford any more periods like that first half.”
Saturday’s hosts Burton have their own huge incentive to pick up three points on Saturday with Nigel Clough’s Brewers still looking to guarantee their Championship survival.
The Staffordshire side are four points clear of the drop zone having significantly strengthened their cause with a 2-0 win at fifth-bottom Birmingham City on Easter Monday.
Luke Murphy, on loan at Burton from Leeds and a key player for the Brewers of late, is ineligible to play against his former side.
“They are all different games and it’s for me to have a good look,” said Monk, asked what challenge Burton would present.
“We have to be ready to give our maximum and put everything out on there on the pitch.
“If we do that, we have seen it many times this season where we are more than capable of winning games.
“We are more than capable of winning the three games but we have to go and make sure that we make it happen.
“That’s the message to the group and that’s the message to all of us and we stick together and we go full into these three games.
“We will be ready and I am sure you will see in those games – starting at the weekend – they will be a team ready to give everything they have got and make sure that we give our best chance of making it happen.
“One thing I am 100 per cent confident with this group is that if we do that, we are more than capable of fighting for those nine points in those three games.
“It starts with the first three points on Saturday.”