HEAD COACH Marcelo Bielsa says Leeds United feel “safe” heading into the cut and thrust of the Championship’s play-offs tonight having drawn “conclusions” from a haul of just one point from their last four games.
United’s bid to finally end a 15-year exile from the Premier League now rests on the play-offs starting with tonight’s semi-final first leg at Frank Lampard’s Derby County who have lost just one of their last 12 en route to rising up the table to finish sixth.
Five defeats from United’s last nine has led to the Whites missing out on automatic promotion and finishing third, despite spending the majority of the season in the top two with Leeds taking just a sole draw from their last four games through a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa.
United’s regular season ended with a 3-2 loss at already relegated Ipswich Town but Bielsa says his men have quickly pressed the reset button and are now full of optimism and dreams for the play-offs.
“The last four games, we only got one point out of 12 points,” said Bielsa.
“And our statistics worsen. Usually we needed six chances to score a goal, and in the cycle of the last four games we needed 12 options to score a goal.
“And in the same cycle, our opponents scored a goal every three chances they had.
“And if we were that efficient we would have won the games with a big difference.
“We analyse deeply the last four games but we did that the first day of the week, we draw the conclusions that we thought were the right ones and we start dreaming of what is coming.
“We are full of hope, we have to hope that we are going to reach our goal, we are dreaming of this and we are full of hope and when you feel like that you feel safe.
“And that’s how we feel, we are longing for facing these new opportunities that we have.”
Despite the poor recent form, Leeds are rated joint favourites to win the play-offs alongside in-form Aston Villa.
The Whites are also odds-on to get the get the better of Derby over the course of tonight’s first leg at Pride Park and Wednesday night’s second leg at Elland Road.
“Before a game we always say there is a favourite team,” said Bielsa.
“You have many facts and many examples that shows that the conclusion drawn before a game regarding who is the favourite are either confirmed or exactly the opposite.
“If you take the predictions and you compare it to the result you will find maybe 50 per cent of the predictions that are right and 50 that are wrong but as we have the luck to be able to play two days there is no point in making any predictions about it.
“We don’t feel as winners before playing the game and we don’t feel as losers before playing the game.
“What we value is the possibility to show what we deserve, the rest are just words.”