Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday are the next two games on the Leeds United fixture list and it’s time we casted our minds back around 13 months. Steve Evans took his side to Portman Road and Hillsborough knowing that six points would just about keep our season alive, anything less and it was game over…again. We lost both. This season we come up against the two trying to open up gaps and kill other teams seasons off.
Every game is a cup final for Garry Monk and his side now. It feels like that for us too, the nerves kicking in and relief when we get goals as well as jubilation. There are a few distinctive differences from the double header last season. Obviously it’s slightly later in the season, the squad is light years away from where it was, we have one of the best young managers in the country and we are looking to cement our spot in the play-off places for another few weeks. We are probably favourites for both games too, and we should enjoy it for what it is. The difference in a year is remarkable and it feels wonderful to finally be involved in the battle at the top of one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
Last season we blew any chance we had of making a late and unrealistic chance for the play-offs in these two games. If we were to lose both this season it would harm our chances but it certainly wouldn’t end them, let’s hope that isn’t going to happen. Four points would be a good return but we want to win every game now and that seems to be the mind-set of the player, fans and management at Leeds United. Ipswich turned the game around last season after Souleymane Doukara opened the scoring in the first minute and it was a case of ForrestieriGate at Sheffield Wednesday as we lost a bitter game by two goals to none. It was then about trying to enjoy the games as much as we could until May before starting again in the hope we were moving forward. We couldn’t have predicted how far along we would be in February 2017 as we face the same opponents.
Both games are extremely difficult. Wednesday are one of the form teams in the league and once again spent heavy in January hoping they can go one better than last season. Ipswich are a team on the way back after a horrible start to the season under Mick McCarthy. The home tie at Elland Road was one of the best 90 minutes this season along with Derby and they are without a couple of players who are leading their fight back, most notably Tom Lawrence. We can certainly take the points if we play to our best and competition for places may well push the players who start to make an impression. whatever happens it’s worth casting your mind back a year and remembering where we were and enjoy now where we are.