Burton Albion 2 Leeds United 1
Well that’s torn it! None of us really expected that result, in just the same way we didn’t expect the Wolves defeat either. The truth is though that we ought to have done.
This team we have is a bit of a conundrum. For seven months of this season the team continuously surprised us by pulling in results we never expected and climbing to heights in the Championship none but the most optimistic ever dreamed we’d achieve. Garry Monk created a match day squad that, when it turned up with its A game, was a match for anyone and better than many but equally on the rare occasions we turned up without our A game we looked a weak side lacking in ideas, often showing a poor grasp of some basic ball skills and a side lacking a cutting edge. Sadly, since we got ourselves into a seemingly unassailable spot amongst the play-off contenders we have seen us turn up without that A game far too often and four defeats in six games has just about put the kibosh on our chances this season.
It is a shame, a shame primarily because there is no guarantee next season will see us able to compete well enough to reach such heights; the Championship gets more difficult to tame with every passing season and next season will be as tough as any. We had a created ourselves a chance this season and we’ve almost blown it. I say almost because of course the dream is not yet dead… it’s on its last legs I grant you, but two wins against Norwich and Wigan, however unlikely that currently seems, and some favourable results in other games could still see us make a remarkable late recovery and deny us yet that season ticket refund!
It’s unlikely now though I admit. It’s hard to see how we can suddenly find that A game again before we trot out at Elland Road next Saturday. What has gone wrong is not easy to fathom. We appear to have run out of steam and no matter what combination of players Monk has come up with lately none has really clicked. The defence is still a fine defence, that isn’t the issue but in midfield and particularly in trying to come up with the perfect combination on each flank we have been left wanting despite myriad permutations being used. Maybe the lack of those couple of quality signings in January has finally cost us, maybe we are just seeing the inevitable end of season fatigue of a very small squad or maybe the young squad we have just doesn’t have the experience needed to deal with the pressures of a Championship run-in. Maybe it’s a bit of all those things.
We’ll wait and see if the miracle happens in the next fortnight before we get too far into the post-mortem – it would be a shame to damage the patient while there is still life in it – but a port-mortem there will have to be and we can only hope it’s done in a methodical, calm, sensible way and that we don’t see the wholesale changes that previous summers have brought. We need that stability and we need to keep the best parts of what on the whole has been a competitive squad this season so we can give ourselves the best chance going into the next campaign. Let’s hope someone at Elland Road has hidden the self-destruct button!
Burton A Leeds Utd
Possession 36% 64%
Shots 11 10
On Target 3 2
Corners 6 8
Fouls 7 9