Leeds United: Top-two tilt is not out of the question – Andy Ritchie

Ronaldo Vieira
Ronaldo Vieira
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MANY people are now starting to talk about Leeds United and the prospect of automatic promotion from the Championship this season.

For me, with the current position that they are in, nothing is currently out of the question. I certainly do think that Leeds will be having an eye on the top two and saying: ‘Listen, we do have a chance here.’

But I also do feel that it is important not to get too ahead of themselves too.

It is a case of keeping the run that they are on and momentum going and seeing where you end up.

If Garry wants to put pressure on the players by aiming for the top two, then it is entirely up to him and you can do that.

But if I was in his shoes, I would probably say: ‘Listen, let’s just keep it going, keep our feet on the ground, we are on a great run of form, but we have got to be wary that we have some very difficult games coming up as well.’

They have a derby to contend with at Oakwell today. Barnsley is a difficult game, you cannot say it is not with what goes around with a derby game and it has been a difficult game for Leeds in the past.

Leeds must be fully prepared and they obviously have Huddersfield Town up next in the league away. But first it’s Barnsley and Sutton on the away front and while those games are winnable, you cannot be overconfident, either.

Given what has gone on at Barnsley this week, you would have thought it might be a good time to face them. But derbies being derbies, I always feel that you can chuck formbooks out of the window.

But with the way it is at the minute, I would think it will be a silly man to bet against Leeds with the momentum that they have got, which we always talk about in football.

I think that will be the controlling factor and Leeds are playing very well and are in a great vein of form.

I just feel that the players there look to have that togetherness which I remember that we had at Oldham when we were successful. It counts for a lot. When you get a group of players who do all get on, it does help.

Everyone was rightly marveling about the performance of Ronaldo Vieira in Leeds’ televised game with Derby County and the biggest compliment I could say is that it is difficult to believe that he is so young.

I do think that Leeds might have a bit of a problem keeping hold of him if he keeps on going. He is so young at 18 and still learning the game and there will be people watching him, no doubt about it. I think that is also the case with one or two others too.

Pablo Hernandez was also terrific. He gives you that midfield option that you can use if you think you are not going to have that physical game as such. He can open doors and score goals.

I just thought Leeds were fantastic overall. They could have won by a bigger margin and should have done, with Kyle Bartley missing a couple of sitters.

But once again, Leeds managed to get the result.

There’s different ways of winning and Leeds are showing different sides of it at the moment. Look at the game against say Brentford where the visitors played really well and were probably disappointed not to get a draw.

But Leeds managed to eke it out and they have that in their psyche now and know how to win a game when it is a scrap.

What is impressing me most is the way they are defending and they are so strong at the back.

In midfield, they also always seem to have two or three options in there and while Garry has changed it around with Vieira in there, it hasn’t come at the expense of the side.

Up front, Chris Wood is in fantastic form at the minute. But don’t forget how one or two of the players are starting to perform a little bit too. Souleymane Doukara is a lot more consistent these days, for instance.

Leeds also have that pace on the wing with Hadi Sacko. He can be very frustrating, but brilliant in equal measure. They really do have a good balance in the team and that is the big thing for me.

Much has been made in football this week with the situation with West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and his refusal to play for the club as the latest example of what is wrong with the modern-day game.

This sort of thing with Payet does enrage me and I just can’t believe it. If he has a genuine reason about maybe his family wanting to move back to France, fine. But if so, why doesn’t that come out straight off – he could have said: ‘this is the reason, my family don’t enjoy it here; I want to move back to France and that is the major part of it.’

If it is for that, I can’t have a go at him. But if it is just because he doesn’t want to play for the football club again, then it is just ridiculous.

It is difficult for West Ham as he is one of their star players. But if I was in their shoes, then I would make a stand.

As a manager, that sort of thing luckily never happened to me. But if it did, I would tell the player in no uncertain terms to go. But I would also say that under no circumstances are you going, unless we get the right money for you.

I would then say that he did not want to play, then you are justified in telling him to train with the kids or whatever.

I wouldn’t do it for any other reasons. I do think you have to make a bit of a stand if Payet has decided on whim that he doesn’t want to play for West Ham any more as he wants to go somewhere else.

Players need to have a bit more about themselves than the likes of Payet is showing, I think.