Uwe Rosler said Leeds United would go to Middlesbrough this weekend with “nothing to lose” and renewed belief after hanging on for a 2-1 victory at MK Dons.
United survived a frantic onslaught in Milton Keynes on Saturday to secure their second win of the season and repair the damage of two disappointing home performances last week.
Rosler’s team took one point from games against Brentford and Ipswich Town at Elland Road, suffering their first league defeat to Ipswich on Tuesday, but first-half goals from Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor were enough to force a win at stadium:mk.
Leeds endured a tense finish as MK Dons attempted to overcome a 2-0 deficit and the dismissal of midfielder Samir Carruthers in the second half but a relieved Rosler is hopeful that his players have restored lost confidence after closing out the game.
The result in Milton Keynes set United up for a trip to in-form Middlesbrough on Sunday – a side they beat home and away last season – and Rosler claimed the pressure would be off his squad against a club who are second in the Championship table.
Boro produced a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest over the weekend, climbing to within three points of league leaders Brighton.
Aitor Karanka’s side are highly fancied for promotion after reaching the play-off final last season but Rosler said he was optimistic of upsetting Boro at The Riverside.
“We’re going into the Middlesbrough game with three points,” Rosler said. “That makes us dangerous. It’s interesting now.
“We’ve got nothing to lose going there and that suits our team. I wouldn’t be surprised if we come back from Teesside with something in our back (pocket).”
Rosler criticised his players openly after their defeat to Ipswich last week, saying they lacked the “courage” needed to play their natural game, but Saturday’s result continued a trend of improved results away from home.
Leeds last won at Elland Road in March but have not lost an away league fixture since the middle of April.
Rosler admitted that his side’s failure to “land the killer punch” had allowed MK Dons back into Saturday’s contest but he was pleased to see United avoid a repeat of the collapse they suffered in a 2-2 draw at Bristol City last month.
“We were a bit loose in the first 20 minutes and 2-0 going into half-time was good,” Rosler said.
“The best period we had was the 15 minutes after the break. We looked absolutely comfortable and had good chances but we didn’t get the third goal.
“We couldn’t land the killer punch. Then you have to ride it out.
“We weren’t happy about the performance against Ipswich. They gave us a lesson in how to win a game and, at this level, how you can’t make mistakes which we did. (At MK Dons) I was much happier. We tried to push for the third goal and I was happy about that.”
Wood’s strike was his fourth goal of the season, converted from the spot after Carl Baker brought down Taylor in the 30th minute.
The striker missed a penalty in last month’s League Cup defeat at Doncaster Rovers but Rosler insisted he had no doubt about leaving the chance to Wood in the absence of first-choice taker Mirco Antenucci.
Antenucci started on the bench on Saturday and appeared for the final six minutes of normal time.
Rosler said: “We are clear. When Mirco is on the pitch he’s number one. Chris Wood is number two.”