YEP Jury: Play-off lottery offers anxiety and optimism in equal measure for Leeds United

Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’s crucial Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final first leg clash at Derby County tomorrow.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 6:00 am
Mateusz Klich.


It was never supposed to be like this, but it is what it is.

The regular 46-game season means nothing now apart from the memories and we should be grateful that we do have plenty of those to look back on.

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Ryan Edmondson.

But now it all comes down to two games with ‘Frank Lampard’s Derby County’ and logic says we have every chance of an aggregate victory that would take us to Wembley on May 27.

In August, a 4-1 thrashing of Derby convinced us all that something special was on the cards this season and then a dominant 2-0 win in January ended a run of three defeats that threatened to derail us.

We are looking for something similar tomorrow; our recent results have been poor and yet in each game we’ve been the better team and, but for our shoddy finishing and silly errors, we’d have won them all.

So, we don’t need to do anything too differently this time other than to hit that flipping target more often!

Leeds United's Kemar Roofe.

Prediction: Derby County 0 Leeds United 2.


It feels like a lifetime ago that Leeds United were last in this position. The play-off lottery beckons and for one side it offers a ticket to the promised land. For the losers, uncertain futures are inevitable.

It’s fair to say that in the past, United haven’t fared well in play-off campaigns, but this is no ordinary season and they have no ordinary coach at the helm.

Marcelo Bielsa got the better of Frank Lampard’s team on both occasions in the regular season and that will play on the mind of the Derby camp, despite the Rams losing just one in 12 games.

Battles will break out across the pitch in both legs, with the likes of Harry Wilson and Mason Mount facing United’s proven squad. Times have changed since Leeds wiped the floor with Derby in the league and everyone on both sides knows it.

If the Whites get back to their best then they’re capable of beating any Championship side. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.

Prediction: Derby County 1 Leeds United 1.


Our season would be over now if things had gone the way we’d hoped – or expected – when we were top of the league at Christmas or sitting pretty in second before Easter.

Our late failure has meant a lot of deflated spirits but surely the heroics performed by Liverpool and Tottenham this week have stirred the anticipation for our two-legged challenge.

If our league games against Derby are a reliable indicator, then we could be looking forward to a 6-1 aggregate win but we all know the opposite result is just as likely. From the impressive trip to Derby in August we are likely to start the game minus Peacock‑Farrell, Berardi, Douglas, Saiz and Alioski.

Whether their replacements can do half as good a job remains to be seen. Recent form isn’t promising.

The key lies in two factors: how much better are Derby than when we met them in January?; to what extent was our display at Ipswich down to us having an eye on the play-offs? I will travel to Derby in hope rather than expectation but I believe that we can do it and belief can go a long way.

Prediction: Derby County 1 Leeds United 2.


Leeds United now face two ‘finals’ that could lead to a trip up Wembley Way but the form of late has to be improved on, especially up front.

Chances could be at a minimum and if they come along they have to taken. The poor form of our striking options is concerning but at least we continue to create them and maybe Lady Luck will smile on us, after seemingly turning her back on Leeds recently. With Patrick Bamford suspended I’d love to see Ryan Edmondson amongst the subs to offer an alternative or give Kemar Roofe some support if needed.

Pride Park is sold out and with the earlier-season ‘shenanigans’ obviously having been brought up, it’s a game that will hold a huge amount of interest. Frank Lampard or Marcelo Bielsa won’t have much to do in their team talks as both sets of players will know the importance of doing well in the first leg.

My heart will always say a Leeds win but a draw would be a fine result and would also give the Whites a real chance of finishing the job next Wednesday at Elland Road.

Make no mistake, Derby will be a tough game; they’ve hit form just at the right time and finished the regular season with a 3-1 win over West Brom who are also in the play-offs.

It should be a cracker!

Prediction: Derby County 1 Leeds United 1.


Very shortly we will be hearing a plethora of words like ‘bottle’, ‘burnout’ and ‘conditioning’.

To these we can add phrases like ‘this team wanted the win more than the other one’ and ‘this is the team who has momentum’. What does all this mean? The answer is very little. The media revolution of Sky, Talk Sport and the tabloids has turned everybody into a self-appointed expert on football.

Some of these ‘experts’ have rarely left their armchairs but feel entitled to voice their opinions to anyone who is prepared to listen.

The fact of the matter is that United have entered a lottery with three other teams.

All four participants stand an equal chance and find themselves in this position because their results have not been consistent enough to finish in the top two over a 46-match season.

Forget what has gone before; this is a great opportunity for United to set themselves up for a pulsating home tie in the return leg. I look no further than that!

Prediction: Derby County 2 Leeds United 2.


Standing on White City station, litter swirling around my ankles, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that Leeds United were not going to walk out of the Championship this season.

Suffering defeat at QPR, there was the realisation that Leeds lacked the magic to establish themselves as a great team. So we join the other wannabes in the late-season competition to see which wallflower will make it as a glamour model.

Some fans will be anxious but, personally, I’ve left anxiety behind and accept what will be will be.

Marcelo Bielsa could yet build a great side but, in the meantime, Mateusz Klich – ever-present in the Leeds squad albeit underwhelming at times – may find himself farther up the field in the absence of an authentic no10. Again, like a broken record, I stress the importance of scoring first.

Bringing a lead back to Elland Road will mean that Derby County will have to come and play, leaving the type of holes that Leeds United haven’t seen in the opposition since Christmas.

Leeds have found themselves playing against parked buses in the main and at least we will see something resembling a game of football at Pride Park.

Leeds have lost already this season, they have let it slip so have nothing to lose.

With their financial pressures, it will be Derby County who will feel the pinch. I suspect we will know our fate within 30 minutes of the kick-off. Let’s hope that Klich is scoring goals.

Prediction: Derby County 0 Leeds United 2.