Leeds United: Staying in touch is Whites target - Lorimer

Andy O'Brien is challenged by Norwich City's Chris Martin.
Andy O'Brien is challenged by Norwich City's Chris Martin.
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As far as I could tell, the biggest danger to second place in the Championship were Billy Davies’ Nottingham Forest. Then you see them lose at Scunthorpe United and you question again how this season will end.

It has to be said that results this week could not have gone any better for Leeds United. Forest losing at Scunny; Cardiff City and Burnley dropping points in the same game; Watford slipping up against Preston North End and Reading doing likewise at Sheffield United. We’ve had favours galore from all over the country.

For a while, you had to take the Championship table with a pinch of salt and accept that most of the clubs around Leeds had the benefit of games in hand. Now that the division has levelled off, you can say without any doubt that United have everything to play for – with the possible exception of the title.

With two home games to come in the next four days, the players should know what a massive opportunity this is.

If Leeds can take six points from these fixtures, I have a sneaky feeling that they’ll head to Swansea City next weekend in second position. Up until now, I haven’t felt certain enough to say that automatic promotion was well within the club’s reach but it’s clear now that United are firmly in the hunt. If you’re there after 30-odd games then you’re good enough to be there after 46.

The result at Glanford Park on Wednesday night told us that no side is nailed on to finish second. Leeds have a fantastic chance and so too do Norwich City. That’s why I’m licking my lips ahead of tomorrow’s game at Elland Road.

We’ve had a few epic encounters with Norwich in the past but I can see this eclipsing the lot. We’re talking about two sides who are punching above their weight and chasing prizes which few people thought they were capable of.

It’s not like last season when both were expected to get out of League One; promotion for either club this year would be a sensational achievement and a bolt from the blue.

In theory, tomorrow’s match is no more important than Tuesday’s against Barnsley. Or next weekend’s game at Swansea. But when you enter the last third of the season, meetings with the teams around you are opportunities to strike major psychological blows.


Believe me, if Norwich go away from Elland Road with a victory, they’ll be absolutely buzzing. They’ll take the road back to Norfolk believing that this is their year. In contrast, United would like nothing more than to send Norwich home with serious wounds to lick.

That said, the clash with Norwich is more of a don’t-lose fixture than a must-win game. We’re not at the stage of make-or-break and I don’t think there’s any need for Leeds to throw caution to the wind yet. That time will come – no doubt about that – but in my experience, the priority with 15 games to go is to stay in contention. The last few weeks of the season are the point at which you go hell for leather. We’re on the run-in but there’s a long way to go. It’s always worth remembering that football seasons are a marathon, not a sprint.

Paul Heckingbottom.

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