AS LEEDS UNITED’S season slips into the all-too-familiar territory of a run-in that has little at stake but pride, Adam Forshaw could surely be forgiven for casting an envious glance at the club he left behind just seven weeks ago.
Middlesbrough are flying, Tony Pulis’s side having soared into the play-off places on the back of four wins from their last half dozen outings.
Hopes are high on Teesside of an instant return to the Premier League, a mood that contrasts sharply with the gloom that surrounds Forshaw’s still relatively new employer.
Wednesday night’s defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers means Leeds have won just once in 12 games since the start of 2018.
As Boro chase potential glory, United’s only meaningful input into the rest of the Championship season will be trying to inflict damage on those clubs chasing promotion or fighting relegation.
Such a scenario is not exactly what was sold to Forshaw when he moved down the A19, but the man himself insists there are no regrets at swapping the Riverside for Elland Road.
“I am playing for one of the best clubs in the country,” said the 26-year-old.
“You look at the fans and everything that surrounds the club and for me to have the opportunity to play for Leeds is great.
“Yes, we are not having a great time at the moment. But I am genuinely playing for one of the best clubs in this country so, by all means, I have 100 per cent made the right choice. Definitely.”
Yes, we are not having a great time at the moment. But I am genuinely playing for one of the best clubs in this country so, by all means, I have 100 per cent made the right choice. Definitely.
Forshaw’s opportunities at Boro had been limited in his final few weeks, but the midfielder was a popular figure during three years at the Riverside.
He made 35 appearances in the Premier League last season, even catching the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate at one stage.
There were also 34 games in the promotion-winning campaign of 2015-16 despite Aitor Karanka’s first-choice defensive midfield pairing being Adam Clayton and captain Grant Leadbitter.
Since joining Leeds, Forshaw’s quality has been apparent. Even when head coach Paul Heckingbottom’s side were being given the runaround by leaders Wolves, he seemed the one player in a white shirt capable of stemming the tide of old gold.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” he said when asked about United’s current struggles. “I am going to be brutally honest and we have to perform better.
“Yes, we came up against a top, top team (in Wolves). Plus we have played a lot of the bigger teams, and teams up that end of the table, in the last month or so.
“But we have all got to take a look at ourselves, individually and collectively. The goals we conceded (on Wednesday night) were poor ones to concede. There is no getting away from that.
“The good thing in this league is the games come thick and fast and we have got a game (at Reading) this weekend. There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves.
“We are playing for Leeds and we need to really step up and be counted and prove that we deserve to be here playing for this great club.”
Heckingbottom’s start at Elland Road has been a tough one, his first six games having come exclusively against the Championship’s top ten clubs.
Tackling Reading, a side who are enduring an even harder time than Leeds, offers a potentially welcome respite.
“The manager has been top class,” added Forshaw. “He has come in and he wants to improve us as players.
“He is a really good coach and although results haven’t been brilliant so far it is nothing to do with him.
“We need to take it on the chin ourselves as players, definitely. As a team we have to be better because since the manager has come in he has been top class.”