Leeds United boss Daniel Farke on 'scoreboard pressure' amid Championship promotion race and why the trip to Rotherham United is 'tricky'
Yet it could easily apply to Leeds United ahead of their resumption of Championship business at Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United on Friday evening.Reassuringly consistent so far in 2023-24, Leeds’s season is now entering its next pivotal stage.
After establishing themselves in the top six, their designs now extend to breaking into automatic promotion positions following a run of six victories in their last seven outings.
Back-to-back losses for leaders Leicester City and just one win in their past three matches for second-placed Ipswich Town should have further emboldened Leeds ahead of tomorrow night’s appointment at a sold-out AESSEAL New York Stadium.
They are doing the equivalent of ‘batting’ first before Leicester and Ipswich are in action on Saturday.
Three points for Daniel Farke’s side would cut the gap between Leeds and the top two to five points and start to make things interesting.
For his part, Farke is circumspect.
The German, a two-time promotion winner with Norwich City, said: “No, we are not too interested in putting pressure on anyone else and what it means for the table.
“We just know that we need to win many, many games in order to achieve what we want to.
“We’ve spoken about that, if we want to finish in the play-offs for example, you need twenty wins in a season and obviously a few draws.
“If you want to be there in direct promotion for example, you need 26 wins and several draws.
“For me, it is just in the last five or six games when you have a look at the table and it’s a bit of ‘crunch time’ to it. It’s important to keep your nerves and to put pressure on the opponent.
“But until then, it’s more staying focused on yourself and as the preparation is tricky, we don’t pay too much attention to the table right now. We just focus on Rotherham.”
Tricky is the operative word ahead for Leeds, whose preparation has not been ideal with several players including Joe Rodon, Daniel James, Ethan Ampadu and Wilfried Gnonto only returning from international duty on Wednesday.
They will not be able to fully train with the team ahead of the game.
There's also the issue of not knowing quite what to expect from the struggling Millers, under the interim command of Wayne Carlisle following Matt Taylor’s exit.
Farke added: “It’s always a bit more complicated and tricky as after a change of manager, you also expect some other personal decisions as to who is in the starting line-up to affect the first two or three games.
“The 'new manager' effect calms down, but in the first two or three days, there’s a bit of fresh air and everyone in the squad wants to make their point. Their coach was also involved as an assistant coach, so I don’t expect that they will play like Man City. But we will see. It’s always a bit more complicated."
Leeds will make several 'late decisions' on a number of players – with form striker Georginio Rutter a major doubt with an abdominal strain.
Nick Hammond will continue as interim football advisor through the next two transfer windows, it's been confirmed.