NEIL WARNOCK admits the odds are against Leeds United forcing their way into the Championship play-off places.
The Elland Road club are six points adrift of the top six after suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to leaders Southampton.
It is a large gap with the campaign now into its penultimate month and Leeds will have all on to close it before the curtain comes down with the visit of Leicester City on April 28.
Between now and then, United have 12 matches to play – starting with tomorrow’s derby trip to Hull City – and Warnock admits his 10th-placed side are in a far from ideal position.
He said: “It is quite a gap but we can still have a good say in what happens at the top. We have to try and win every game.
“I have sneaked in a couple of times in the past, once at Notts County and then at Huddersfield we got in through the last game.
“But we do need a lot of results going our way.
“We have to beat the best sides, too. We can’t just keep losing and play well.
“We probably needed to get something out of the Southampton game. You can talk a load of bull about still being in it mathematically and all that.
“But I think there are not only good sides in the top six but also two or three just outside who are better than us at the moment.
“All we can do is put the same kind of commitment as we showed against Southampton. Draws are no good to us so we have to go for wins.”
United’s sixth defeat at Elland Road this season was, without doubt, the hardest to take with Warnock’s side dominating only to lose to a 15th-minute strike by Ricky Lambert.
Losing on his home bow was disappointing for Warnock but he insists there were plenty of encouraging aspects to United’s display.
He said: “We deserved to beat them but, unfortunately, you don’t always get what you deserve.
“We should have beaten them by a few goals.
“It was disappointing to lose but, in another way, I was quite proud as we gave the fans something to cheer about.
“I like fans to go home thinking, ‘That was good’. I look at how England play and I could go to sleep. I don’t want that with my teams.
“I want excitement and end-to-end football at a hostile Elland Road.”
Warnock added: “The players couldn’t do any more but score. I am a Yorkshireman and I know that if you give 100 per cent then there won’t be any complaints.
“It is when people don’t put a shift in and are picking money up under false pretences, that is when Yorkshire people get a bit mad.
“If anything, our players should look at themselves. Having played like that against Southampton, who are top of the league, then why are we wallowing in mid-table?
“I think one or two players have been disappointing. I feel a little bit sorry for Simon (Grayson) in that respect.
“But these players now have the opportunity to prove to me that they want to stay at Leeds United, which is a fantastic club.”
A stunning display from Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis played a big part in Warnock’s first home game ending in defeat.
The United chief, however, was also upset with referee Nigel Miller for turning down what, replays showed clearly was a blatant handball by defender Jos Hooiveld inside the penalty area when blocking a shot by Robert Snodgrass.
Warnock said: “I went into see the referee and linesman and they said that in the incident, none of our players appealed or even went to the referee.
“I said, ‘Okay, but I have told them not to do that’. Maybe I will have to instruct my lads to harass them and make sure we get round the referee like Southampton did for Michael Brown’s booking.”