Sheffield United firmly in driving seat after Leeds United take another tumble

Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa, centre, and staff yell instructions from the sidelines as the side fell to defeat at Brentford to complete a pointless Easter programme (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa, centre, and staff yell instructions from the sidelines as the side fell to defeat at Brentford to complete a pointless Easter programme (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder admitted to relishing the way his side keep defying the doubters after taking an iron grip on the race for the Premier League.

The Blades moved three points clear of nearest rivals Leeds United with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Hull City.

The reaction has been brilliant. Now that is us beaten once in 14 or 15 games, which at this stage of the season is great. We are in good nick.

Chris Wilder

A first-half double from David McGoldrick and Enda Stevens’s third goal in four games meant the Blades took full advantage of another Easter stumble by Leeds, beaten 2-0 at Brentford.

With Wilder’s side boasting a vastly superior goal difference, one more win should be enough to take the club back to the top flight after a 12-year absence.

“We needed a big weekend,” said the Bramall Lane chief, whose side beat Nottingham Forest on Good Friday, to The Yorkshire Post. “We have obviously done that now.

“We did not take any shortcuts. Everyone looked at the fixtures for other teams – I am not naming names – and said it was a difficult one.

“How people did not see Hull away being just as difficult was beyond me. Hull City’s form, especially at home, and the attacking players they have made them a big threat.

“They may not sign players left, right and centre, but they have a Polish international (Kamil Grosicki) who is top drawer in this division and Jarrod Bowen, who will definitely be valued at a big, big number.

“Fraizer Campbell, up the top of the pitch, is another. We had to be bang at it. Then throw in the extra spice of the ex-manager (Nigel Adkins); we are delighted to come away with the win.”

The contest in the East Riding was effectively over by half-time, much to the delight of Wilder who feels his side have not been given the respect they deserve at times this term.

“We are playing at a decent standard,” he added. “We had words after the Millwall game (when they drew 1-1 on April 13). I did not think it was us.

“The players were disappointed after Millwall, but I have enjoyed their reaction. The Villa game (when United drew 3-3) would have knocked a lot of clubs out of their stride.

“After the Villa game I think a lot of people were looking at us and saying, ‘That is a sledgehammer of a blow, 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go and get pegged back’.

“But we went on and beat Reading by four, we beat Middlesbrough and we won at West Brom. We have gone to Leeds and won, as well. The reaction has been brilliant.

“Now that is us beaten once in 14 or 15 games, which at this stage of the season is great. We are in good nick.”

Leeds, in contrast, are certainly not in a good place after losing back-to-back games over Easter.

Confidence and belief seems to have drained away, as illustrated by a flat second-half display at Brentford that never threatened to yield the positive result Marcelo Bielsa’s side so badly needed.

“I am very sad,” said the Argentinian, who made a point at the final whistle of going round his dejected players to try to lift spirits.

“We had the hope to finish first or second, but with this loss it is going to be very difficult.

“As long as the maths say something we will be following them, but we know our opportunity was in the last two games we played.

“The sadness is linked to the fact that we could have changed just a few things to get different results. Small details would have made a difference.

“The Brentford game was like many games we have played this year. We had offensive actions, but without efficiency. This is the summary of our season.”

On Sunday Leeds host Aston Villa, who have won their last 10 games, before travelling to Ipswich Town on the final day.

“I am going to paraphrase Tiger Woods,” added Bielsa. “He says, ‘When you are fighting for something important you always have pressure’.

“He feels when something important is at stake there is pressure. But if there is something I can say, for sure, it is that our team was never affected by pressure.

“If we want to say why we don’t have 10 points more we just have to take a look at how many chances other teams need to score and how many chances we need to score.”

Meanwhile, Hull head coach Adkins plans to meet with the Allam family this week to discuss the future as a new contract offered by the club last month remains unsigned.

“I will sit down with the owner on Thursday afternoon for our next chat to see where we are going as a football club, and where we will be financially” said the Tigers’ chief, whose current deal runs out in June.

“We now know we are going to be in the Championship.

“In the past there has been talk of takeovers, talk of reinvestment, talk of losing parachute payments. We will have to see where we are.

“There has been things going on behind the scenes from a recruitment point of view, looking ahead to next year.