Our YEP Jury look ahead to Leeds United’s final Championship game of the sseason at Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
Where has the time gone? Is it nearly 10 months since the first ball was kicked? Leeds, without doubt, have had a better season – even a good season – but the feelings of massive disappointment just won’t go away.
Throwing away such a large lead over the seventh-placed team after the last international break is pretty hard to stomach.
After beating Brighton, most, if not all, thought it was a near certainty that Leeds would be guaranteed a place in the playoffs.
It didn’t happen and the fans are left to reflect on the reasons why it didn’t. I’ll give mine here and now; readers may agree or disagree.
1: A disappointing January transfer window
The team were in the top six and if there was a reason why only two loanees, Barrow and Pedraza, were brought in, I cannot understand it. Surely, with large attendances coming in nearly every home game, wasn’t it worth the risk to add a quality player to a limited squad?
Sheffield Wednesday spent £10million on ONE player and they will consider it money well spent if they win the play-off final at the end of the month.
I struggle to comprehend why this opportunity wasn’t taken when so well-placed in the Championship.
2: Poor displays against lower-placed teams after the Brighton win
Wolverhampton at Elland Road and Brentford and Burton away are just three sides that you’d think that a team hoping to win promotion would have enough ‘in the tank’ to beat them. Two wins out of the games mentioned would have meant Leeds would have only probably have needed a point out of their last game with Wigan.
Remember, Leeds only collected five points out of seven games, post Brighton.
3: No plan B
Although the formation the team used brought a top-six league position, if it didn’t work there wasn’t in place, or didn’t seem to be, another way of playing, and because of the January transfer window there was no different option to bring off the bench.
4: No settled midfield
Bridcutt, Vieira, Phillips, Sacko, Hernandez, Pedraza, Roofe, Dallas, Barrow were all used in the midfield five but O’Kane was constantly overlooked and he did seem a useful player when he was picked. Constant changing didn’t give them a chance to strike partnerships in a important area in the starting XI.
I’ve only got so many words to use so I can’t list everything that contributed to the amazing loss of form in the last month, but there is enough in what I’ve mentioned to see why next season Leeds will continue to be in the Championship.
Garry Monk takes Leeds to Wigan Athletic on Sunday and we won’t know until at least next week if he’s to carry on with his duties. How ridiculous it is that year after year a head coach must wait and see if his efforts in the season have earned him an extended stay at Elland Road. It’s disgraceful as well if you ask me.
I’d like to see Leeds sign off with a win at relegated Wigan but, to be honest, the football season finished for me just before five o’clock last Saturday.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1 Leeds United 3.
Only a few weeks ago we all thought we’d be turning up at Wigan for a celebration party looking forward to the play-offs and, if we got lucky, a trip to Wembley at the end of May.
Sadly, it is not to be and instead it is merely another chance to salute a team and a manager that we hope will remain largely intact through the coming summer to have another go at it all next season.
With Wigan already relegated and Leeds’ seventh place cemented we can only hope for a rip-roaring open game now that all the shackles can come off and I’d expect to see a few goals. Whether we can see the seven or eight from Leeds that might give us a chance of a miracle if Wednesday can do the same to Fulham is, I admit, unlikely! But, as the man once said, “It’s a funny old game!”
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2 Leeds United 5.
After 45 matches United finish their Championship campaign at Wigan Athletic on Sunday lunchtime. After United’s draw against Norwich and the Latics’ relegation already having been confirmed this could be regarded as a “dead rubber”. However as ever, the Whites will be backed by significant “loyal hordes” who will no doubt be wishing to clearly suggest to the board what should happen next. It’s almost summer so don’t forget to bring your buckets and spades, after all there’s a pier in Wigan!
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2 Leeds United 3.
Nobody associated with Leeds United wanted to go to Wigan with nothing to play for – and it still hasn’t really sunk in that that is precisely what has happened.
At least, unlike the similar circumstances at Queens Park Rangers in 2011, United retain bragging rights seeing as how we will still be in this division next season.
On to a positive and this is an opportunity for head coach Garry Monk to try something different. Maybe he will go all out to close that goal difference gap as far as possible.
The important thing now though isn’t what happens on the pitch this weekend but what happens afterwards, starting with Monk’s own future.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1 Leeds United 4.
After last Saturday’s spine-tingler at Elland Road, United are set to complete the season against doomed Wigan. It was at the same venue just over three years ago that Massimo Cellino’s ownership was all but confirmed. At the time of writing it looks as though he will be selling his share to Radrizzani very shortly. Garry Monk may also be confirmed to be staying on. If the stars are thus aligned, I’m backing United to take the brakes off.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1 Leeds United 4.
Leeds United’s season comes to a close at Wigan on Sunday, but in all honesty it ended last week in the draw against Norwich.
Barring a miracle, Leeds will finish just outside the play-off places, a result that I would have been delighted with if offered it at the start of the season.
Instead it’s another campaign tinged with disappointment as the collapse in form in the final weeks of the season mean we will remain in the Championship for another year.
It’s a funny coincidence that it is likely to be the last game played under the ownership of Massimo Cellino, as it was at Wigan that the announcement came through that he had been cleared to takeover the club three years ago.
We chanted his name coming out of the ground that afternoon with the hope of great things to come. Instead it has been a disastrous time for the club, with total mismanagement from top to bottom.
With the potential of new ownership on the horizon, hopefully we can aspire to reach for the top once again. Unfortunately, that is painfully just out of reach this season. Let’s go out with a bang.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 0 Leeds United 3.