No need for drastic action but Leeds United must mind the gap to Fulham - David Prutton

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LEEDS United take on third-placed Fulham at Elland Road today and it’s important that Leeds keep Fulham at arms length.

You can look at the final nine games of last season and what happened with United missing out on automatic promotion but then Leeds were only two points ahead of third-placed Sheffield United with nine games left.

This time the gap is seven points with eight games left.

On the one hand you think they would do well to chuck that away but on the flip side we could be sitting here in 10 days’ time and it could be totally different given how small this little window is and how quick the games are going to come up.

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WIDE OF THE MARK: Winger Helder Costa, left, and his Leeds United team-mates endured a frustrating day at Cardiff City but David Prutton feels there is no need to drastically alter the Whites' approach. Photo by David Davies/PA Wire.WIDE OF THE MARK: Winger Helder Costa, left, and his Leeds United team-mates endured a frustrating day at Cardiff City but David Prutton feels there is no need to drastically alter the Whites' approach. Photo by David Davies/PA Wire.
WIDE OF THE MARK: Winger Helder Costa, left, and his Leeds United team-mates endured a frustrating day at Cardiff City but David Prutton feels there is no need to drastically alter the Whites' approach. Photo by David Davies/PA Wire.

Leeds have got to be very wary of how quickly teams can catch up and this is where the pressure comes into it and it’s a different type of pressure now.

Leeds will not be turning up at Elland Road with nearly 40,000 shouting and screaming and feeling the nerves and the angst.

But they will know that everyone will be looking on from afar with bated breath and waiting to see how they react.

Looking back at United’s 2-0 defeat at Cardiff on Sunday, performance-wise, statistically they dominated every single portion of that game apart from the most important one which is goals scored.

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It’s all well and good playing in that rhythmic, ball dominating way, but if it doesn’t end in goals then that’s where the frustration lies for the fans.

I think Leeds’ fans have obviously really enjoyed their side’s approach and the way that they play and more often than not it has garnered them results.

One performance that lacked penetration doesn’t mean that you throw all kinds of preconceived plans and preparations away with regards to the way you play.

The way they play suits that team and it suits that team even more when they create good quality chances that get put into the net.

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Overall, as good as Leeds were possession-wise and dominating the ball, they were let down by the final pass.

There were incidences to cross the ball which were used incorrectly whether it be getting near the byline and the fundamentals of the basic standing the ball up to the back post and more often than not players were looking to whip the ball in to areas where people weren’t on the end of it.

I presume it is something they are very much working on but you look at a side in Cardiff who are the best at set pieces.

Set pieces might be deemed an agricultural way of winning a football match but if it gets the ball into the net than that’s the main thing.

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I think that Leeds have to hold themselves to a higher standard in the fact they do have players that can play a certain way and good technicians on the ball but they don’t score anywhere near enough goals at set pieces when they have got a lot of height and power and presence in the box.

They need to make more of that but Pablo Hernandez was obviously missing for the Cardiff game and he makes them tick.

I’m not saying Leeds are a one man band when it comes to the creative force of the team but if he is not there then someone else has got to step up.

You also have to rightly applaud Cardiff for two fantastic finishes but there is the genesis of both goals, sloppy passes from players from a team that you don’t really acquaint with that type of thing.

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Fulham also lost their first game back against Brentford and, again, they are a side that we have seen dominate teams but we have also seen them play poorly in patches within the framework of a game yet come away with a result.

You can’t get away from the fact that they have got an extremely potent centre forward in Aleksandar Mitrovic and they have got creative players that have operated at a higher level and have proven themselves to be players that can get a team out of the Championship which is quite obviously what Leeds are looking at right now.

For Leeds, there’s plenty to be wary of, not just in the sense of the personnel but also the proximity of where this team is – right behind them.

Leeds could have been sitting relatively pretty in double figures away from them but knowing that could get cut very quickly.

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I am sure that no-one at Leeds will need reminding how close Fulham are.

If Fulham do take all three points and you are a pessimist then you would think the worst.

Leeds’ fans know exactly how glorious this club can be but also how utterly gut wrenching and disappointing it has been at times over the course of their very long and illustrious history.

I am sure there is an active northern cynicism but hopefully it’s a case of normal service resuming on the back of the defeat at Cardiff.

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It was the first game back at Cardiff, playing in front of an empty crowd and dealing with those emotions and the travel arrangements.

I am not for one second making excuses because the tempo of the game was there and it’s just about how they deal with the pressure or what they feel to be pressure.

It’s what promotion contenders and what champions potentially are made of in handling the pressure.

Look at Liverpool and take an example from and what they have done.

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Leeds might not end up as champions of England but they might end up playing them next season which is what we are after.

Sky Bet Championship on Sky Sports, today: Preston NE v Cardiff City – Sky Sports Main Event noon, Leeds United v Fulham – Sky Sports Main Event 3pm. Tomorrow: Bristol City v Sheffield Wednesday – Sky Sports Main Event 11.30am, Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield Town – Sky Sports Main Event 2.15pm.

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