BRIAN McDERMOTT last night promised that Leeds United will pull out all the stops in attempting to do Yorkshire’s two relegation-haunted teams a favour similar to the one that helped Hull City win promotion a year ago.
The Elland Road club travel to Birmingham City this afternoon knowing they cannot go either up or down this season.
With the Blues sitting just one place above the relegation zone, fans of second-bottom Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers, who are two places and one point above Lee Clark’s men, are worried that a ‘no-show’ from Leeds could seriously impact on their own clubs’ chances of avoiding the drop.
McDermott, however, has moved to reassure supporters of both the Reds and Rovers that his players will be looking to put a serious dent in Birmingham’s survival hopes.
And the United chief has pointed to the final day of last season, when his side won 2-1 at Watford despite having little but pride to play for – a result that allowed Hull to pip the Hornets to automatic promotion by just two points.
He said: “We have already done that (helping out the teams in trouble). We have played Barnsley and Blackpool in the last couple of weeks and we won those games. No one could point the finger at us.
“We went to Watford last season for the last game, and won that game. It was a vital game for Watford. This will be no different and we will do everything we can to get the right result.”
With Yeovil Town down following the East Monday defeat to Huddersfield Town and last night’s loss at Brighton, Barnsley are odds-on to join the Somerset side in League One next term.
The Reds are four points adrift of Birmingham, who boast a vastly superior goal difference, and know only back-to-back wins at Middlesbrough today and at home to QPR next week can give Danny Wilson’s side a chance of extending their eight-year stay in the Championship.
Wilson said: “There is only one game left for us – and that is this one. That is it. We are approaching Middlesbrough as if we have one game left.
“There is nothing beyond that at this moment in time. We know what the scenario will be, should we not win.
“We are not too sure what it will be if we draw, that is down to other teams. But more importantly, for this game, our own destiny is in our own hands.
“Because if we take three points, we take it to the last weekend and if we do that, I will be delighted. If we get to the last weekend, needing a win, I think we are capable of doing it.
“Six points from two games will keep us up, in my opinion. I may be proved wrong; I hope I am not. But I hope we get the six points to find out.
“The confidence has been hit. But sometimes you don’t get a second chance and we’ve got a second chance this weekend. We still have a hope, which is great.
“After last week, we might not have had that, but we are still in there, which is one positive to take. We need to grasp it with both hands and will be doing our level best to do that.
“We are going up there knowing there will be a lot of questions asked of us, whether it be during the game or after. We have to be strong enough to deal with it.”
As a player, Wilson had to hold his nerve amid the nerve-shredding tension of a relegation fight.
It came with Luton Town, who in 1989-90 won their final three games of the First Division season to pip Sheffield Wednesday on goal difference.
On the task facing the Reds, Wilson said: “The players can be heroes in this town. The fans have been absolutely brilliant.
“Should we win at Middlesbrough, the fans will be unbelievable for us in the final game against QPR. We owe them that, that’s the minimum.
“We must give everything and leave absolutely nothing in this dressing room, nothing whatsoever. We need to go out there and put everything on the line for them. That’s the least they deserve and I’d expect nothing less from them.
“As a player I have been in this position on a couple of occasions.
“The main one saw it go to the last game and everything was conspiring against us. We were away at Derby and ended up winning 3-2, while Sheffield Wednesday got beat 3-0 at home by Nottingham Forest.
“So, I have experienced it. I know that if you take your eye off the ball, that is when the regrets can come. When you haven’t gone the distance and something comes in your favour and yet you haven’t taken advantage of it – we don’t want that.”