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Back on the 16th of September, an article in The Independent declared that “Leeds are finally emerging from the long, unlit tunnel they entered a decade ago”; now we’ll be lucky to scrape into the play-offs. Little more than two months later, we seem to have slipped back into that old familiar and unforgiving black hole.
So can Leeds find a way back into the light with a play-off place? And if so, what will it take to get there?
The first nine games
Leeds’ season so far has been one of two contrasting halves. The Whites won six of their first nine games. And nothing sums up our form during the first half of this season better than our 5-0 thrashing of Burton Albion.
Holding his hands up to Leeds’ sheer quality, Burton manager, Nigel Clough, said “we couldn't do too much about the quality of the goals they scored” – and he was right. We were quite simply outstanding that day and Burton’s goalkeeper didn’t have a chance.
The 2-0 win away at Sunderland was also a masterly performance that saw the whole team fighting and pushing for a win.
The last nine games
As it stands, the last nine games have seen Thomas Christiansen’s men pick up just six points from a possible 27. After topping the table, we’ve now sunk to 10th place. The fact that we’re just three points behind 6th placed Middlesbrough (at the foot of the play-off) shows how our early form is keeping us in contention (in theory, anyway).
This shocking contrast is surely down to consistency. Let’s face it - the Championship is a notoriously difficult league in which anyone has a chance to beat anyone else.
While this may sound like a bit of a cliché, a team has to grind out results, even when not at its best, to be in with any chance of promotion. The best teams in this division find ways to get last minute winners, or at the very least, equalisers. With this kind of yo-yo form, no-one would take football betting tips from anyone suggesting Leeds has what it takes to get back into the Premier League.
To highlight the consistency issue, the impressive 2-1 home win over Middlesbrough on the 19th of November suggested our confidence was returning. However, this was quickly followed by a 4-1 drubbing from league leaders, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves are a team that consistently get results. Granted, the West Midlands side did bring in a lot of new players in the summer, but so did we. One of Wolves’ best signings was goalkeeper Jon Ruddy on a free transfer from Norwich.
We desperately need a goalkeeper and Ruddy would’ve been ideal. Leeds are a big club with fanatical support – so aren’t we making these kinds of bargain signings? We’re clearly inconsistent in the transfer market, as well as on the pitch.
At the time of writing, we’re getting reading to play Barnsley tomorrow, so we need to return to winning ways, or else our season will be over. I hate to say it, but I just don’t think we’re good enough at the moment.