The only 'reliable' Leeds United thing left, players question and Whites blame - David Prutton

There's a chance. That's what you can say about Leeds United's prospects of staying up as that's the mathematical truth, writes DAVID PRUTTON.
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But it's clearly going to take a lot and it would be ultimate survival on Sunday if they manage to avoid the drop. It's not unheard of but It's not the norm of course with the permutations working in favour.

Leeds were a goal up in last weekend's clash at West Ham and seemingly looking like they were starting a game well. But it slipped away from them and while the brass tacks of getting relegated can happen on the final day of the season, the ingredients have been there for a long time.

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It's a reflection of a season's worth of low performance and low output which ultimately seals your fate on the final day unfortunately. I think it's a fair reflection to say that Leeds just fell apart at West Ham and that's how the season has panned out too with regards to coming apart at the seams, managerial changes that haven't worked and action taken possibly at the wrong time.

LEADING HOPE: Leeds United's Italian international teenage forward Willy Gnonto. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.LEADING HOPE: Leeds United's Italian international teenage forward Willy Gnonto. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.
LEADING HOPE: Leeds United's Italian international teenage forward Willy Gnonto. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.

It's all a bit hindsight now but there is a lot of debate to be had about Jesse Marsch getting the World Cup break and those couple of games before the World Cup break seemingly keeping him in a job.

Javi Gracia came in and made a decent start but he went after a very short space of time and then we had Sam Allardyce coming in who was a manager that was reportedly mooted before. He was evidently deemed the wrong choice but then when it was proper all panic stations he was deemed the right choice.

Performances on the pitch have reflected what we have seen off the pitch but ultimately it's a collective shortcoming of the whole institution.

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The only one thing that has been ultra reliable, as ever, has been the fan base which is always the case with Leeds whether it's League One, the Championship or the Premier League. Either way, they are there with bells on and there to make that noise. They're going to have to bring that noise at the weekend but it might just be too little too late.

There didn't appear to be any fight from the players at West Ham and if you go down swinging then I think fans can stomach that. I'm not saying they accept it but they can stomach it. But being seen to be going down without a fight is the ultimate slap in the face for the fans.

There'll be lots of fingers pointed in lots of different directions if Leeds go down but ultimately it is performances on the pitch that haven't been good enough over the course of this campaign and of course, last campaign.

It's been a mixed bag of Premier League performance since Leeds got back into the top division. They looked very strong and coherent and competitive in that first season back but that has just dwindled and dwindled and dwindled to the point where it is now where it is looking more than likely that next season they will be back in the second tier.

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I think the responsibility is collective. It's the timing of decisions made, whether it was going back to what Marcelo Bielsa did so wonderfully well. Jesse was then seen as that ready made appointment and I don't think there was an evolution in the playing style. I think he had his way of playing which ultimately saw him depart.

Javi did a decent job for a handful of games even though he did only have a handful of games and then Sam has come in to try and salvage things at the very last minute and it's still mathematically doable.

But I think players have got to take a huge responsibility for it and it would be a cop out for them to point the finger at the board and say it's the board because players have come in to strengthen the squad which hasn't happened.

The real core of that squad that got them up have been the ones that have been there more often than not. With the players that have come in, how many would you deem a success? There's not that many that are unqualified successes which then reflects on the recruitment strategy and the type of player that they are going for.

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There's some good players there. Willy Gnonto is a good player. I don't really know what Georginio Rutter is. I am sure there is potential but you can't trade in potential when the absolute here and now of being in the Premier League is the most vital thing.

Rutter stayed on the bench at West Ham despite Patrick Bamford going off injured and Rodrigo playing on through a foot problem so Sam has obviously not seen enough from Rutter to be able to trust him on the field of play.

It's a manager's prerogative to pick whoever he wants. You have to consider whether Rutter has been given enough of a chance but also have we seen enough of him from when he has been on to suggest that he is the answer? I would say no to both of those questions and time will tell with that.

If you are looking for a silver lining to what is a very, very dark cloud if it is relegation then you have got a £35m striker that might smash the Championships to bits. But it is a might and the proof will be in the pudding.

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I think a lot of what Sam has said has been a damning reflection of what he has found at Leeds United. Is he the man to take them forward? I think time will tell with that in a very literal sense of whether he's got a contract or whether there is anything offered to him off the back of it.

But relegation, if it is that, is a collective failure. In some cases and at some clubs fingers are pointed at the board and quite rightly solely the board. In some places, it's off the field issues and it's all types of different things that come into it.

But this is poor performances on the pitch, a leaky defence, a strike force that hasn't scored enough goals, a team that has been easy to beat, a team that's been easy to lose a lead and facilitated or not by the players that were brought in and the way that the team has been set up by the management and the coaching staff, the players that have been made available by the recruitment side of things.

And that then is ultimately the responsibility of the people that run the football club. Across the board, you get promoted as a collective and unfortunately you get relegated as a collective too.