A few weeks ago, I lamented Leeds United’s tendency to take two steps forward and one step back as they bid for an instant return to the Premier League.

After three wins on the bounce, true to their habit of flattering to deceive, the Whites suffered another setback on Wednesday night when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City.

Once again Leeds United paid the price for failing to take their chances, including a missed penalty by substitute Patrick Bamford in the second half, with fans on social media calling for his scalp.

To spurn a penalty and then lose to the unluckiest of own goals is up there with the cruelest manners of defeat in football.

Another opportunity missed

The most frustrating thing about my beloved Leeds United is that they drop points against sides they are heavily favoured to beat; Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and most recently Stoke City.

The form book ahead of the clash against the Potters suggested Leeds United had a huge opportunity to add to their points tally for the campaign and consolidate their place in the play-off spots in the process.

While no serious harm was done in the quest for a top-six place, with both Leicester City and Ipswich Town winning their matches, automatic promotion could yet prove a bridge too far for Leeds United.

The Foxes juggernaut

Leicester City are looking relentless and at this rate their return to the top flight is looking increasingly assured, a mere formality, barring an inexplicable loss of form.

Apart from that blip against Hull City, a freakish 1-0 defeat – no disrespect to the Tigers – the Foxes have looked imperious all season. They are clearly a hungry pack in a hurry to return and partake of the feast at English football’s top table.

Mind the gap

Leicester City have dropped just three points all season, amassing 36 from a possible 39. A 14-point lead on third-placed Leeds United is quite a handy advantage to have with about a third of the season gone. It’s a healthy buffer for when when they experience the odd slump, which they inevitably will at some stage during the campaign.

Meanwhile, for a newly promoted side, Ipswich are making a real fist of the promotion race and continue to confound the doubters. They are right on the Foxes’ coattails, just five points adrift with a game in hand.

If Leeds United are to halt the Foxes juggernaut and rein in the top two then then need to add consistency to their game.

The Gray experiment

For the third successive game Archie Gray was named as a fullback.

I’m still scratching my head about the “experiment.” I can’t for the life of me understand why Gray is being played in that position when we have players who would be better fits in that role.

Luke Ayling, who is defensively sound and offers a threat in attack, was left on the bench in the last three matches.

Why put square pegs in round holes? Has Daniel Farke seen something about Gray’s game that we can’t see as fans? Is the manager intent on converting the youngster into a fullback?

Could it be that Archie Gray’s deployment in an unfamiliar role is a “needs must” move owing to a dearth of cover in that position?

It’s early days

There is still plenty of football to be played before medals are handed out at the end of the season. It’s too early to sound alarm bells and to feel overly despondent.

Still, even at this early stage one wonders whether automatic promotion is already a forlorn hope for Leeds United. The gap to the top two – 14 and 9 points to Leicester and Ipswich respectively – is already a cause for concern.

Many expect Ipswich’s “newbies’ luck” to run out at some stage, but will Leeds United be close enough in the Tractor Boys’ rear-view mirror to overtake?

The Terriers test

We go again on Saturday against another side who on current form we are expected to beat. But as the Championship reminds us every match week, there are no easy games in this division.

Leeds United will be desperate to bounce back and return to winning ways in front of their fans. They will also be wary of the Terriers and know that they can’t afford to underestimate the visitors.

Roll on Saturday

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.

Write A Comment