Leeds United never do anything the easy way, and for the first time since November, they currently reside outside the playoff positions. It was only a month ago - after the victory against Brighton – that we were all dreaming of automatic promotion and confident in the knowledge that we would get another chance in the playoffs if we didn’t catch the top 2 in the division.
None of us thought “1 win in 5” later, we would sit 7th in the league and facing a reality where we don’t even make the playoffs.
However, I would like to look at the current situation from another angle, a more positive one.
At the beginning of the season, we all made predications on who would make it to the promised land of the Premier League. Most people would have included the likes of Newcastle, Norwich, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday, and some of the more romantics within the Leeds fan base might have stuck in Leeds in through the back. I often refer to the team who climb into the playoffs at the end of season as the team I fear the most because they have had the momentum and have had to fight right until the end to get their chance at glory.
I think Leeds became expectant of a top six finish and they lost their fire inside to fight for every point. Now they have to fight, and fight hard, because three wins means top six - anything less and Leeds United’s destiny lies in the hands of others.
I spent a lot of time over the last few days looking at how the Championship table may look after this weekend’s fixtures. I looked at all the possibilities where Leeds would regain a place within the top six.
The possibilities are vast and the other two teams involved (Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham) both have tricky fixtures to manoeuvre around on Saturday. So, I felt it would be a good idea to take a look at Wednesday, Fulham, and Leeds United’s games and make an honest judgement how all three teams will fair.
Here’s this weekend’s outlook:
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Derby County
Over the last few weeks, we have become the Sheffield Wednesday from 4 weeks ago: we all felt they had faulted and were destined for another season within the Championship. However, something just clicked and suddenly they now sit at 5th.
This week they host Derby County, a side who on the day can be either great or rubbish depending on how their mood serves.
I think the game will be an open affair; both sides possess an attacking threat and I expect goals from both teams. For Wednesday, this may be their downfall as other results will be flying around the Wednesday players heads during the game, so I can’t see them really storming away with the result.
I am going for a draw, 2-2 if I have to pick a score. That’s one point for Sheffield.
Huddersfield vs. Fulham
This fixture back in October saw Fulham railroad Huddersfield 5-0 at Craven Cottage. I expect this game to be very different. Fulham and Huddersfield are the two best footballing teams I have seen this season (sorry, true) and I anticipate a really good game.
Derby did us a favour last time around against Huddersfield: their late equaliser meant this game is just as important to Huddersfield who still have the chance to catch Newcastle for second.
Fulham’s run in, a very difficult schedule, is what will be their downfall and I can’t see them leaving John Smith's Stadium with any points.
Huddersfield will be too good and win. 3-1 is my prediction. That’s zero points for Fulham.
Leeds United vs. Burton Albion
If the results play out the way I hope, Leeds will be in a good position against Burton. However, a win for Burton could see them safe from relegation so the lads will have to be aware of that. I still think we will walk out with the points. More on this game in the next few days here at Through It All Together, but three points for Leeds for this sake.
Predictions For Sunday Morning’s Table
I believe Leeds will be back in fifth, Sheffield will drop to sixth, and Fulham will be in seventh after this Saturday’s fixtures.
I have been a Leeds fan all my life and, over the last few years at this stage of the season, I have usually become detached from football and looking forward to next August. Leeds usually sit somewhere around 15th in the league.
However, this April I am fully engaged, and after a couple of days of worry and fear... I confidently feel the stars will align on Saturday and we will be back in the playoffs.
Regardless, on April 20th, Leeds are in position to threaten for a play-off spot, and I definitely would have taken that in August. Chin up, Leeds fans... six cup finals to go. MOT.