Leeds United’s hopes of securing a playoff spot were dealt a crushing blow on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at Burton Albion.
The wheels have really come off in recent weeks, and two second half goals from Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly made it 2-0 for the Brewers. Kyle Bartley pulled one back for Leeds but it was to be in vain.
It was a feeble performance from Leeds, which will go down as one of the worst performances of the season, at the worst possible time. Chris Wood can count himself unlucky, though, as he had a goal disallowed in the first half. The only explanation is that the referee saw some sort of infringement on the goalkeeper following the corner, but this judgement looked extremely harsh.
Fulham beat fellow promotion hopefuls Huddersfield Town 4-1 in an impressive statement of intent. It was the kind of statement that has been all too lacking for Leeds during April.
The reasons for the sharp drop in form at such a crucial stage of the season are plain for many to see. After Andrea Radrizzani purchased 50% of the club from Massimo Cellino in early January, many fans thought the stage was set for the club to make hay whilst the sun was still shining, and strengthen a side that was in excellent form. Whether the decision not to spend in January was down to thriftiness or shortsightedness, it’s a move that has looked increasingly foolhardy as the results have taken a nosedive.
The club has badly lacked a plan B up front for when Chris Wood hasn’t been firing. Signing another striker was the bare minimum that was required if Leeds were to make the play-offs.
Where he once excelled, captain Liam Bridcutt has disappointed in the centre of midfield. Whether it’s a lack of fitness or just a simple drop in confidence, his recent performances have not been up to the standards required for a team gunning for promotion. His lacklustre performances in the middle have not helped his 18 year old partner, Ronaldo Vieira, who looked lost on Saturday.
Leeds play Norwich City at home this coming Saturday. Three points is a necessity if they are going to have any hope of going into their final fixture of the season at Wigan with something to play for. The fixture should have some spice as this week the media have widely reported rumours of interest in Monk from Norwich. Norwich have picked off several of Leeds’ star players in recent years such as Bradley Johnson, Luciano Becchio, Jonny Howson – so rumours of Norwich interest in their manager has the fans understandably uneasy. Leeds need to tie him down to a new contract quickly.
This week has marked the 25th celebration of Leeds United’s final First Division title win. They won the title the season before the competition was to be rebranded the Premiership, and Garry Monk will be hoping to channel some of that side’s fighting spirit as they cling on to faint hopes of promotion.