Leeds United are currently in the Championship’s top two but the captain of a fellow promotion-chasing team is hoping his side can once again get one over on the Whites this season.
Fulham skipper Tom Cairney, in conversation with Sky Sports News, recalled how his side pipped the Whites to sixth place in the table in 2017, while the Elland Road side finished seventh.
At present, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are second on 62 points, while Fulham are fourth on 57 and Nottingham Forest – who have played a game more than both – are third on 59 points.
Cairney looked back at the first half of the season, when Leeds and West Brom had raced ahead of the chasing pack, only for their respective advantages to then be dwindled down significantly.
“I remember a few years ago Leeds were 12 points ahead of us in February or March time and we ended up catching them and beating them to the playoffs,” Cairney told Sky Sports News. “It would be nice if something like that could happen again.
“You talk about it among your teammates and how nice it would be to have the extra few weeks off! The playoffs are a great occasion to be involved in; the semi-finals were amazing. When you’re in it it’s special and you do enjoy it but if you are in it, you have to win it. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Leeds fans will not certainly need reminding about their near-misses in recent years, but it speaks volumes about the size of the club that rivals single them out when it comes to the scalp everyone wants.
In 2017, Leeds were managed by Garry Monk and were heavily reliant on Chris Wood’s goals; he finished on 30 for the season, while his nearest challengers got six apiece in all competitions – a different proposition to the Bielsa-shaped machine of today.
Admittedly, the Whites’ loss of form in the second half of last season cost them dearly, and this season they’ve had their hiccups, but they have stabilised with two clean-sheet wins in a row, and with the memories of 2018-19 fresh in the players’ heads, there will be a strong desire not to repeat those mistakes and to finally get over the line.