Former Scotland and Rangers striker Ally McCoist believes Leeds have to go up automatically or risk missing out on a place in the Premier League.
Leeds are embroiled in a promotion race with Sheffield United and the Sky Sports pundit believes that the Whites may well fall short if they are forced to navigate their way into top-flight football via the play-offs.
Leeds are back in the driving seat with just five games to go in the Championship after Chris Wilder’s side drew with Birmingham on Wednesday night.
The Whites now have their fate in their own hands knowing that if they win every game until the end of the season they will be in the Premier League.
If Leeds are to drop into the play-offs they would have to drop points in their next five games and that could affect their mindset heading into the postseason matches.
McCoist believes that Leeds would struggle with the playoffs if they missed out on the top two.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate podcast (33:55) he said: “Momentum is a massive massive thing in any sport, particularly football. We know what momentum is like.
“We spoke about Villa. They are a team who clearly have momentum at this moment in time.
“If Leeds start going like that (wobbling) then it’s very very difficult to get back up there again.
“That’s why it’s so important for Leeds to clinch that automatic 2nd spot, because I think it will be extremely difficult to get up through the playoffs because other teams will have momentum on them.”
If Leeds fail to claim a top two spot it may not be the end of the world despite what McCoist says.
Last season Fulham’s 23-game unbeaten run ended on the final day of the season to deny them a place in the top two ahead of Cardiff City.
Despite seemingly having the wind taken out of their sails, the London club were victorious at Wembley in the play-off final and clinched a place in the Premier League.
But, as McCoist has alluded to, Fulham’s opponents in the final last year may be the team Leeds have to worry about most.
Dean Smith’s side has turned into a different animal in the second half of the season and Leeds would have a huge task on their hands to topple Villa over two legs.
McCoist is correct in thinking that the play-offs will be a tough task for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, but if they can follow the example Fulham set last year they should have enough to seal promotion.