Leeds United number two Steve Thompson believes the club would be wrong to think they are safe from relegation – but says the play-offs should not be seen as an impossibility either.
Neil Redfearn’s assistant wants Leeds to show “no complacency” after surging away from the bottom end of the Championship last week but previous promotion bids during his time as coach at Blackpool have made Thompson reluctant to give up on a top-six finish.
United are 15 points adrift of the play-offs with 15 games to go and more attention is being given to the small margin between Redfearn’s squad and the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s visit to Championship leaders Middlesbrough.
Leeds climbed eight places to 12th last week with wins over Reading and Millwall. Rotherham United manager Steve Evans, however, warned Redfearn on Monday that his team were still at risk of the drop.
“I keep hearing that they’re mid-table but it goes all the way up to inside the top half,” Evans said. “I don’t think anyone on 38 points or below is not part of the battle.”
Thompson, who is two months into his role as assistant to Redfearn, agreed with Evans, saying assumptions about Leeds’ survival were “the last thing that’ll happen here.”
Asked if United’s players felt safe, Thompson said: “Not at all. We’ll never get complacent about that, and that’s not me being negative. It’s just the last thing that’ll happen here.
“Until we’re mathematically safe we’ll continue to strive. We’ve had good results and we want to keep on getting results. The more we have, the better we’ll become and the more it’ll take us up the league. We don’t want to be looking behind us.”
Leeds’ 1-0 win over Millwall last Saturday was their fourth victory from fifth games, the club’s best spell of the season and a passage of results which has transformed the table.
Turn to page 51
United are still 40/1 to reach the play-offs but Thompson recalled his involvement in Blackpool’s 2006-07 campaign when 10 successive wins under Simon Grayson carried the club into the League One play-offs and up to the Championship.
He was also part of the coaching team who oversaw strong finishes in 2009-10 and 2011-12 and guided Blackpool into the Championship play-offs on both occasions. “We want to get as many points as we can,” Thompson said. “I was at a club where we went 10 (wins in a row) and got into the play-offs so anything can happen.
“Realistically we’re a way back but you take every game as it comes - nick points here, grind results out there. Until it’s impossible, until it’s gone, you keep striving for it.”