Leeds United midfielder Michael Tonge insisted last night that the Championship play-offs remained a realistic target for the squad at Elland Road – and backed his team-mates to break their run of poor results when the season resumes.
Tonge denied that United’s form during September and the first week of October had cast doubt over their ability to compete for a top-six position, saying Leeds had “nothing to fear” in their division.
Brian McDermott’s team eased through the first month of the term but have picked up just three points from five games since a 1-0 victory at Bolton Wanderers on September 14.
Their 3-1 loss at Derby last Saturday – United’s fifth defeat of the term – took them into the international break in 14th position, five points back from the play-off positions, but Tonge is confident of sparking a quick turnaround when Leeds continue their campaign against Birmingham City a week tomorrow.
The match is the first of five successive fixtures against sides in the bottom half of the league.
“I think the top six is a target,” Tonge said.
“The teams we’ve played so far have shown us nothing to fear.
“It’s the usual story in the Championship – if you can put a run together you can get up there.
“If you have a good week in the Championship and win three games, you’re right in amongst the play-offs.
“We’re looking at it in a positive way and we just want to get back to putting some good performances in. Results will come after that.”
McDermott, who is being credited with an interest in signing 20-year-old Manchester United striker Will Keane on loan, kept his squad in the dressing room for half an hour after their lax performance away to Derby.
Tonge admitted that the responsibility for lifting United back up the Championship lay primarily with the players and claimed there was a “sense of determination” to improve their form and answer criticism.
“You do get these periods in the season and it’s down to us to put it right,” Tonge said.
“There’s obviously disappointment but you can’t dwell on things too much because you’ve always got another game coming.”