Leeds United’s season should be seen as a success even if they fail to make the playoffs, but it will be regarded as a missed opportunity if they do miss out.
After finishing 13th last season and struggling at the start of this term, Garry Monk’s men have risen and proven themselves to be tricky customers for other teams in the Championship.
They currently sit in 7th place, just one place outside of the playoffs, on 73 points which are equal to 6th-placed Fulham.
One thing that Leeds United have in their favour is that their final three games are not as problematic as they could have been.
Visits to lowly Burton Albion and Wigan Athletic should prove an easy task for them as both sides are embroiled in a relegation battle. Their other fixture is against Norwich who only sit just one place below Leeds but are currently 10 points adrift; they basically have nothing to play for.
This fixture run in is a lot easier than Fulham who have to play high-flying Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday; who occupy 5th place. However, the form they are in could cause Leeds some concern as the London club have a much superior goal difference which could prove fundamental should both sides finish on the same amount of points.
The run-in will see the former Premier League side rely on their standout players of this season. Players such as top scorer Chris Wood and stronghold Swedish defender Pontus Jansson will prove vital if they are to stand a chance of returning to the Premier League.
It will come as no surprise that the Swede has been linked with sides such as Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool; as he has contributed to the 13 clean sheets, Leeds have kept this season.
With all the defending that Jansson does, it would be futile if there was no end product and Chris Wood has been prolific enough this season to keep Leeds up near the top. The Championship’s top scorer has 25 goals, and those goals are nearly half the amount his side have scored all season.
However, the form has just not been there this month. One win all month has seen them slip out of a playoff place and are currently scrapping it out with a resurgent Fulham side, who are on a three-game winning streak.
As stated, it will feel like a missed opportunity for a team that have not been in the top flight since 2004. A side of their calibre should be in the highest division, the infrastructure is there for them to end the 13-year hoodoo but it could be out of their hands, for this season, if their rivals fail to slip up.
It will be a real battle, mainly between Leeds and Fulham now, with the battle intensifying now that there are only 3 games to go but The Whites have to focus on their own game instead of worrying about the other teams around them.