Often when players, particularly in a top-flight team, are fighting relegation or generally under-performing, their desire is the first thing questioned.
Many things have gone wrong to leave Leeds needing to out-do Burnley’s result at home to Newcastle United to stay in the Premier League, but no one could suggest they have not tried enough. If anything, they have taken coach Jesse Marsch’s constant instructions to be “aggressive” too far.
This week he has by and large tried to lead by example by playing it cool.
“Sometimes in moments like this, I think you have to be careful about over-motivating or changing too much because it can sometimes add more pressure,” comments the American, who has won 12 of Leeds’s 35 points this season from his 11 games.
“I don’t think we need that. I think we need to stay calm and be clear.
“That’s a big part of what this week has been like, really focusing on Brentford, what we want that match to look like and how we want to play.”
Leeds over-stepped the mark at Arsenal and Chelsea, which is why Luke Ayling – who has taken the opportunity for knee surgery which will keep him out for “two to four” months – and Dan James are suspended tomorrow.
“The motivation, the work ethic and the commitment here is never a question mark,” stresses Marsch. “I’ve said all along it’s about my ability to guide their efforts in a way that can help them be successful as a group. That’s a challenge (to strike the right balance) right now.
“It’s just about my behaviour and my belief and exuding that with everything I say and do, and then making sure that the clarity of exactly what the matchplan is and what we want the game to look like and how to handle different moments in the match (are).
“We’re bringing Adam (Forshaw), we’re bringing Stuart (Dallas, both injured), we’re bringing Luke, we’re bringing Dan, everyone’s going to be there together.
“This is going to be about us being as strong a group as we can possibly be to stand tall at the biggest moment in our season.”
Patrick Bamford will hopefully be involved on the field having not played since rupturing his plantar fascia in March.
“Patrick Bamford has looked really good this week,” said his coach. “We still haven’t made a final decision on exactly where he’ll stand for Sunday.
“He had a day off yesterday inside to recuperate but we’re hopeful we can make him available.
“More than anything (we have to be sure) we’re not risking him at any level. At the moment I don’t believe we would be, but we’ll just have one more meeting with Patrick to go through what it looks like, what the loads have been, how he feels and do a final assessment of is he available, how minutes, what’s the best strategy?
“I think he’ll have a positive impact. We’re just trying to physically prepare him in every way to give us as many minutes as he possibly can.”
Club legend Eddie Gray was passing on some pearls of wisdom to players and coaches this week but it was not the sort of set-piece rallying cry some managers like to set up at times like this, just someone desperate to see his beloved club thrive doing what he has got back to since Marsch restored him to his familiar place at Thorp Arch, on the touchline during training sessions.
“He didn’t come to give a talk, he just was here and he’s such a wonderful man,” explains Marsch. “He has a lot of wisdom and he’s been very generous to me so I like speaking with him.”
Marsch always tries to convey his confidence in his players to them and everyone else.
“I actually slept pretty well on Thursday night after the matches (which secured Everton’s safety and took Leeds’s destiny out of their hands) because I still have a lot of confidence in our group.
“It’s better when we fully control it but that’s not the case. But the preparation to make sure we do whatever we can to make sure that we get the three points on Sunday is the most important thing.
“Obviously there are stresses involved.
“I’m not just saying I’m excited, I am excited. You don’t work in this business unless you want to be in these situations.
“Most of the situations for me have been fighting for titles but whatever – fighting for results, doing whatever it takes to be successful, that’s what this will require.”
Emotions spilling over have been an unfortunate theme of a week scarred by pitch invasions across the divisions that for most were about exuberance but featured violence from too many.
“You want to see passion from the fans but you want to see respect for the game, the players and the teams and so some of these scenes have been tough to watch,” acknowledges Marsch. “However, I don’t need reminders of how important the moment is, we are very clear on that. And our fanbase has been amazing throughout the process.”
Everyone will need to be amazing tomorrow, but recognising what that is and being able to do it will be the hardest bit with the stakes so high.