Going into this weekend’s games, Eddie Gray was in a very upbeat mood.
After a 13 game run which had produced 10 wins and 1 draw, defeats to Newcastle and Brighton the only blight on that record going back over three months, Gray had plenty room for optimism.
So much so that he was predicting a win over Barnsley would then help set in motion a four or five game winning run and the eventual outcome…’I think we are going to end up in the top two’.
As a back up, Eddie Gray also felt that Leeds United were now in a big comfort zone when it came to the play-offs, eight points to the team (Derby) in seventh, ‘a big gap’ according to Gray.
Eddie Gray speaking to LUTV:
“When you have been out of the top six and then you get into the top six, you want to get a gap between you and the seventh team.
“They have done that and it’s a fair gap – eight points – that’s a big gap.
“Now the top two are definitely in range.
“I get the feeling that if we go on a run and win four or five on the trot, starting with this Barnsley game, I think we are going to end up in the top two.”
The Championship though can rebound so quickly and hit you right between the eyes.
This weekend’s games saw, at some point, Brighton down to 10 men and drawing in the final stages, Derby falling behind in their game, Newcastle encountering a resolute bottom of the table opposition and a frustrating goalless first 45 minutes, as well as Leeds taking the lead at Barnsley.
By the final whistles: Brighton, Newcastle and Derby had all won, whilst Leeds had lost, partly thanks to Newcastle’s Adam Armstrong who go an assist on the goal that made it 1-1, with Barnsley going on to win 3-2 in Saturday’s teatime match.
Eddie Gray must have dreamed of Leeds closing to as near as three and four points behind the top pair, as well as stretching as far as 11 points ahead of seventh.
The reality as you see below is that Leeds are now nine and 10 points respectively behind Brighton and Newcastle, plus Derby have closed to within five of the Elland Road outfit. Summing up how this division is one of shifting sands, Barnsley themselves have been on a decent run and yesterday’s win puts them only four points off the play-offs and seven behind Leeds.
This is how the Championship top six looks now on Sunday 22 January (Brighton and Reading having played one game less than the other four clubs):
58 Newcastle (GD +33)
57 Brighton (+24)
49 Huddersfield (+2)
48 Leeds (+10)
46 Reading (+2)
45 Sheffield Wednesday (+5)
43 Derby (+6)