Leeds head into this afternoon’s clash with Brentford as huge underdogs and that is a reflection of just how disappointing their Championship campaign has been so far.
The Whites finished 11 points and three places above Brentford last season and were expected to kick on and finally nail down a playoff place this time around. It was all going well at the start of the campaign, despite the loss of Chris Wood, but things have since tailed off in an alarming fashion for Leeds.
Thomas Christiansen’s position is starting to look extremely precarious as managers have been sacked for a lot less, but the Dane can count himself fortunate that he has such an understanding paymaster in Andrea Radrizzani.
Christiansen was the Italian’s first choice after Gary Monk quit within two days of his £100 million summer takeover of the club, so he is unlikely to be too hasty to pull the trigger. He tasked Christiansen with finishing in the top six, and it has to be noted that Leeds are still in a strong position in the table thanks to their strong start to the season. They are currently seventh – the same position they finished last season – but optimism is starting to wither among the Elland Road faithful after such a disastrous run of form.
You can excuse the Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester, but five defeats out of six in the Championship is relegation form, not the stuff of title challengers. They were outclassed by Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff, and lost to Reading – who are fast becoming a bogey team – but they were slightly unfortunate to suffer defeats at the hands of Sheff Utd and Derby.
Fortunately for Christiansen, the owner agrees with that sentiment. “I feel all your disappointment for the negative results,” he told fans after the Derby defeat. “But tonight I feel proud to be Leeds Utd. We played well and deserved much more.”
Radrizzani went on to berate the officials, declare his team did not deserve to lose and offer them his full backing – and he had a point. Taken in isolation, Leeds were hard done by in that game. But the run of results as a whole has been lesss than satisfactory, the Whites only on the fringes of the play-off picture due to their early season form. Without doubt, Christiansen has to stop the rot and quickly so.
However, a trip to Brentford offers little respite for the beleaguered boss. Check out a bookmaker review for the most competitive odds on the market and you will see that Brentford are odds-on favourites to win this game. Meanwhile, Leeds are all the way out at 10/3, a massive price against a team like Brentford. To put that into context, you can get shorter odds on bottom club Bolton to beat Norwich on the same day.
The Peacocks are now 10/1 outsiders to gain promotion to the Premiership and rated as having a worse chance of doing so than Wolves, Cardiff, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheff Utd, Bristol City, Derby, Norwich and Fulham. That will make grim reading for fans after the elation and buoyancy that defined the opening weeks of the campaign. There is, however, still time to turn things around. Leeds do not have a great head-to-head record against Brentford in recent times, but Dean Smith’s side are not exactly firing on all cylinders at present either, and it is very much a winnable game.
After that, Leeds face a run of fixtures that could well define their season. Following the international break, they host pre-season title favourites Middlesbrough, then travel to table-topping Wolves, and a game against Aston Villa follows hot on the heels of an away trip to Barnsley.
If they slump to more defeats, the season will be in disrepair and Christiansen’s job will be teetering on a knife edge, but if they can find some resolve and pull out some results against the league’s heavyweights it could set the tone for another charge up the table. Here’s hoping.