With eight matches to play, and for the very first time this season, Leeds United are sitting atop the Championship table.

A 2-0 victory over Millwall on Sunday put the Whites in pole position on goal difference, dislodging long-time leaders Leicester City.

Yes, the Foxes have a game in hand, three points which would see Enzo Maresca’s side reclaim top spot if they avoid defeat.

For now, however, giddy Leeds United fans will savour the majestic sight of their horse galloping down the home straight with its nose in front.

It’s an exhilarating feeling, up there with the best emotions in football.

Club dynamics

Leeds United’s start to life back in the Championship was to a significant extent undermined by events off the pitch.

Protracted ownership changes meant the club could not hire a new manager as quickly as they would have wanted. And when the new manager eventually arrived a few weeks before the season kicked off he found himself in a race against time to fashion a competitive squad.

Daniel Farke arrived at a club in a state of flux, on and off the pitch. The German immediately set about overhauling a squad relegated from the Premier League.

A massive player cull followed. Several top stars were farmed out on loan while others were moved on permanently in a bid to align the club’s playing resources with the financial requirements of the second tier.

Reconstituting the playing squad also required that the club offload some players first before bringing in new faces. It was a delicate balancing act.

Frustratingly for the fans, there were more departures than arrivals as the new ownership regime struggled to make any meaningful inroads in the transfer market.

As a result, when the season kicked off the new-look squad consisted of loan returnees, a few remaining senior professionals and a sprinkling of academy graduates.

It was a callow squad, decidedly threadbare. The results on the pitch reflected this reality.

To his credit, Farke refused to panic and insisted the club had a strategy in place. Amid growing fan restlessness, the manager urged patience and trust in the process.

And just before the transfer window closed, a raft of new recruits arrived. The club also  managed to hold on to a couple of want-away star players, including Wilfried Gnonto, who has been in scintillating form in recent weeks.

Remarkable turnaround

An infuriatingly indifferent start to the season caused many Leeds United fans to revise their expectations for the season.

Leeds United were stuttering, lurching from one frustrating result to another. Farke’s men couldn’t muster any sort of momentum.

The optimism engendered by the pre-season tag as promotion favourites soon gave way to more conservative season targets.

As Leeds United fans watched rivals canter into the distance, their focus shifted from automatic promotion to rehabilitating the season with a view to hauling themselves into the play-off reckoning. If Leeds United could manager that, then they would have sufficiently rescued their season.

There can be no doubt now that Farke’s men have overcome their early season struggles. The Whites are in fine fettle for the final stretch.

Dare to dream

With a play-off spot all but secured, fans have reason to revise their expectations again.

Leeds United are firmly in the hunt and fans can dare to dream about their club returning to English football’s top table as champions.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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