NEIL Warnock admitted today that he would be happy to see Leeds United begin the final 10 games of the season six points adrift of the play-off places after vowing to take their Championship promotion fight “right to the death.”
Warnock claimed that the existing margin between Leeds and Brighton was surmountable in the run-in as he stressed the importance of emerging from tomorrow’s clash at Crystal Palace with the deficit no bigger.
Leeds dropped to 10th in the Championship after a 1-1 draw at Leicester City on Tuesday evening and the club have moved no closer to the top six despite taking four points from their last two games.
United will have 10 fixtures remaining after tomorrow’s match in London, and asked whether he would accept a result at Selhurst Park which prevents his team from falling further behind, Warnock said: “Absolutely.
“It would put us in a good position and we could really kick on. I’d really like to come out four points back but we’ve got six home matches left and I’m happy with that in the run-in. I’d take my chances of getting into the play-offs with that.
“We still feel like we’ve got a chance and we’re not going to give it up without a big fight. We’ll go right to the death.
“We’ve got six out of 10 at home after tomorrow and we’re playing well both home and away so let’s give it a shot. That’s all I’ve said to the players - give me a great end-of-season run.”
The struggle for a play-off place has become increasingly congested with the resurgence of Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers lifting both clubs to within striking distance of the top six.
Middlesbrough are also in contention but Brighton, who visit Bolton this weekend, have held sixth position for the past fortnight. They maintained their six-point advantage over United with an unconvincing goalless draw at Bristol City on Tuesday.
Palace, meanwhile, are all but assured of inclusion in the play-offs having climbed to 64 points on the back of their midweek win over Hull City but Leeds’ 10-game run-in includes meetings with only two sides in the Championship’s top six - Brighton and Watford.
”Palace come under the heading of automatic promotion,” Warnock said. “If you look at the fixture list, Palace is probably the most difficult game we’ve got left. But then again, who’s to say that Peterborough at home (next Tuesday) won’t be a difficult game? In our league you just don’t know.
“Every team we play we’ve got to take points off, wherever they are in the league. That’s how I look at it.
“We’ve thrown away points against Wolves, Leicester, Middlesbrough and definitely Cardiff, and going through those results you realise that we could easily have had another 10 points without playing fantastically well.
“But it could be worse. I couldn’t see where the next win was coming from a few weeks ago. Now I look at every game and think it’s winnable.”