Leeds United have it within their compass to make nervy finale enjoyable for their fans - David Prutton

FOOTBALL in the Championship is finally back with today’s lunchtime kick-off between Fulham and Brentford at Craven Cottage.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 8:08 am

If Fulham can record a victory then the gap to West Brom and Leeds becomes three points and four points respectively and it all gets a bit closer.

The whole situation and the return to football just feels bizarre. We have had all the build up and the games that we have seen in the Premier League over the last few days.

There are the varying fitness levels we have seen and the fact that teams are playing in front of no crowds.

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BIG CHANCE: For Tyler Roberts who impressed after coming on as a second-half substitute in February's 4-0 win at Hull City in which he scored a brace, pictured celebrating the second goal, above. Photo by Tony Johnson.

We are not talking about splitting the atom here or curing any form of incurable disease but this is what footballers have to get through and work through and now we will see what the Championship is like.

We always talk about how tight and helter-skelter the division is and although three and a half months have elapsed, the same questions are still there and can Fulham put pressure on the top two?

We will soon know by mid afternoon today whether they can and if they can hit the ground running.

The fact that Fulham have the chance to win to immediately put pressure on West Brom and Leeds is huge.

The pressure that is put on Leeds or the pressure that Leeds feel over the course of the last season and three quarters has been a feature.

Could they could handle the pressure last season? – to just flatly say no is a bit unfair.

To get to where they got to after the improvements they made from a playing point of view was fantastic, they just couldn’t get over the line.

But for a team that is looking to get in the Premier League that doesn’t end up in getting in the Premier League, you have got to say that the pressure told.

This is Leeds’ chance to put it right but it’s also a chance for Fulham and Brentford and the chasing pack to put pressure on.

All the chat over the last few months has been about if and when the league gets back that Leeds and West Brom are shoo-ins for automatic promotion.

We have spoken about how the season may pan out and if it is curtailed and if it goes to points per game and how that would affect Leeds.

If Leeds have a run of form that they did in and around the Forest game then it could make for a very nervy end to the season for them.

But if Leeds play as we all know that they can do then they can make it relatively enjoyable shall we say for the fans looking on.

Leeds obviously start off with tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off at Cardiff City who are harbouring ambitions of getting into the Premier League themselves though as feisty as these affairs are, there will obviously be no crowd there.

Neil Harris will be the type of manager that wants to make sure he gives a good account of himself against a team that he has enjoyed playing against over the course of his career.

You only have to look at the game at Elland Road – the 3-3 draw.

It looked done and dusted, plain sailing and all sewn up but you can’t turn off or switch off, not just in the Championship but in football.

The game is not won until the final whistle is blown and Leeds have got to be extremely wary because Cardiff have got players who can really hurt them.

Whoever thinks Leeds are going to turn up and blow Cardiff away has to be wary and mindful of being disrespectful.

Obviously we are talking about it from a Leeds point of view but it’s not just about Leeds rocking up and being the big fish in whichever city they go to.

Cardiff have got more recent Premier League history then Leeds United and Cardiff is a big city club.

You can’t take away their pride, their passion and their commitment to being as good as they possibly can and how big an effect it would have for them to get back into the Premier League too, not only for their city but for the country as a whole.

Leeds have got it in them to blow teams away when they are firing on all cylinders and ticking along nicely.

But Cardiff are a strong team that are competitive and I can’t see Marcelo Bielsa or the management or the players or anybody associated with the actual physical effects of a Leeds United team on a pitch taking a trip to Cardiff for granted.

The other side of it is the logistical side and is the trip down going to be straight forward?

Leeds will also be without Pablo Hernandez which is likely to mean a start at no 10 for Tyler Roberts which is huge for him.

When somebody gets injured, no matter how relatively dramatic we can get about it, the very nature of a football match and a football team and a football squad is that there are people to step in and now this is an opportunity.

We have seen Tyler come on and score goals, we know what he can do and I think Leeds fans want to see that on a consistent basis like they do for any player they have got.

I think Pablo is a big miss and this is a game that Leeds need to manage to get through but I always err on the side of positivity with stuff like this because it is an opportunity for somebody else who needs to get several games under his belt from a Leeds United point of view.

Leeds fans have seen enough of him to know that he is a player who can have a big impact on a football match.

You would not say they are happy to see Pablo away from the starting XI but they know what Tyler can do.

Sky Bet Championship on Sky Sports, today: Fulham v Brentford – Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event noon, West Brom v Birmingham – Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event 3pm.

Tomorrow: Cardiff City v Leeds United – Sky Sports Football 11.30am.

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