HEAD COACH Thomas Christiansen is calling on his Leeds United side to thrive under the pressure of being top of the Championship as he declared: “we have to live with it, we are the team to beat.”
Leeds soared to the Championship’s summit with Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at home to Birmingham City with Christiansen’s side now one point clear of second-placed Cardiff City.
The Whites could further strengthen their lead in tomorrow afternoon’s clash at sixth-bottom Millwall though Cardiff, Sheffield United and Wolves in particular are all snapping at United’s heels.
But Christiansen says he “expects” his side to deal with the newly-found pressure and expectation of being top as the Dane aims to strengthen United’s superb start to the season at The Den.
“We are the team to beat, of course,” said Christiansen,
“But we have to live with that if this is the position that we would like to maintain or at the end of the season try to keep.
“We have to get used to it.
“Of course, some people can handle the pressure and some people can’t and some people can grow with the pressure.
“And this is what we expect – that we can handle all of these things.
“I like the pressure that is put on the team and this is also my message to the players – to deal with it and to know why the pressure is.
“It’s not the same being under pressure in the first position to being under pressure in the last position.
“What’s most important is to let the players know what is the real situation and what is expected and what I expect from them.
“All of the games are different and in this league they are obviously very tough but we we need to be 120 per cent focused on what we do and of course the opponent we will face this weekend.”
Leeds have an appalling recent record at Millwall with the Whites having lost on seven of their last eight visits.
But Christiansen is quickly bucking past trends with the Dane having taken no notice of United’s previous poor track record in games after the September international break.
“I take the records that I want to use and I take them,” smiled Christiansen.
United’s head coach also said that his Leeds side would strive to achieve promotion in their own way when asked by Sky if the Whites could take inspiration from near neighbours and last season’s play-offs winners Huddersfield Town.
Christiansen reasoned: “Of course, if you see a team who are promoted in the way they were promoted and the season they made then you would like to be in the same way.
“But we are Leeds, we are different and we have our ways to achieve our goals with the hard work.
“Hopefully come the end of the season we can all be satisfied and proud with the season.”