BY the end of the first Saturday in March last year, Leeds United were four places and six points adrift of the play-offs with a dozen games still to play.
Even victory this lunchtime at home to Millwall could not be enough to prevent the Yorkshire club experiencing a distinct feeling of deja-vu thanks to sixth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion being at home and seeking the double over a struggling Huddersfield Town side.
Considering that United went on to finish 2011-12 in the bottom half of the Championship, the club’s current standing is not one that is filling supporters with encouragement as the prospect of another campaign fizzling out hones into view.
Neil Warnock, however, insists this season is very much alive and that if Leeds can emerge from a forthcoming trio of games – trips to Leicester City and Crystal Palace await – then a play-off challenge will be possible.
The United chief said: “People have written us off but if we can get out of the coming week undefeated then that will set us up for the final 10 games and a real push.
“From my point of view, the pleasing thing is we have a settled team and that always helps. We are settled at the back, the back five have been settled for a few weeks.
“In midfield, we now have some energy and we are creating chances. Now, we have just got to hope that Ross (McCormack), Luke (Varney) or Steve (Morison) hit a scoring spree.
“If one of them does start knocking them in, then we have got all the ingredients.”
Leeds have won once – the 2-0 triumph over Blackpool on February 20 – in five outings but Warnock insists the results tell only half the story with the defeats to Middlesbrough and Cardiff plus the 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers leaving the 64-year-old particularly frustrated.
He said: “We really should have got nine points out of those three games. To get one point was deflating.
“After that, though, we didn’t want the season to peter away. We have played some really good football this year. People remember (the heavy Cup) defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea.
“But what they should remember is how we got there. How we played Tottenham and never gave (Gareth) Bale – the guy who is destroying teams at the moment – hardly a kick.”
Warnock is set to name an unchanged line-up today for a game that will see less than 100 Millwall fans present due to a boycott over West Yorkshire Police’s insistence on operating a “bubble trip” whereby visiting supporters cannot travel to Elland Road independently.