Leeds and Derby need to react to embarrassing defeats; Leicester too hot for play-offs

Ross McCormack preparing to take a penalty for Leeds United

The weekend's crucial games were eye openers for Derby County and Leeds United fans, while Leicester City supporters witnessed why it will be their year.

Matchday 25 in the Npower Championship is likely to be classed as one of more memorable of the season, with Derby County and Leeds United embarrassing themselves live to the nation.

The weekend's two biggest games both involved an East Midland and Yorkshire rivalry with all four teams having something on the line and looking to prove to themselves more than anyone, that they have what it takes to reach their relative goals.

Derby County were hoping to prove to the watching nation that they had the potential and quality to challenge for the top 2 places, instead they produced easily their worst performance of the season and were ripped apart by an incredibly effective Leicester City side.

The Rams more than matched Leicester in the first 10 minutes, imposing their game plan perfectly and looked capable of going on to win the game. As soon as Leicester created their first opportunity on goal however, Derby simply broke down and tried ineffectively to batten down the hatches. Which they did, very unsuccessfully, losing 4-1.

Derby County stand-in captain Jake Buxton reiterated that the result at the King Power Stadium would not define their season, but it certainly looks like a long way back for Derby, if they want to win automatic promotion.

The result proved two things for me, one Derby struggled to handle the pressure of the big occasion, which with a young side can be expected and two, if they want to make the automatic promotion slots this season then they need to strengthen and add experience.

The next game for Derby County is another huge fixture, as they look to keep their place inside the league's top six. Brighton and Hove Albion are another one of the league's form teams, and a fourth loss in a row could really take the wheels off their promotion push.

It has to be said that the performance of Leicester City was absolutely extraordinary for a side in the Football League, proving that they do have Premier League quality in their side. Lloyd Dyer proved to have too much for England U21 captain Andre Wisdom, who played a large part in Liverpool's first team last season, while David Nugent rolled back the years to show why he once earned an England call-up. It would be a huge surprise on the back of this and the season so far, if Leicester City aren't promoted at the end of the season.

Another side to bewilder the supporters at the weekend were Leeds United. Brian McDermott was left fuming when the final whistle went at Hillsborough, admitting he participated to faults that caused Sheffield Wednesday to win 6-0.

It's impossible not to credit Wednesday, as they were fantastic through-out the game but the performance from Leeds United could well be the worst seen by any side in the division this season.

The result came straight after an embarrassing FA Cup exit and left fans questioning the former Reading manager, including whether or not he would spend the pending investment wisely or if they should cut their losses and bring someone else in.

In defence of Brian McDermott, he wasn't given the easiest job at Leeds United and up until a couple of weeks ago, he looked like he was well on target for the play-offs. However, football is a fickle sport, especially in the Championship where two or three results can change your perspective.

For Leeds and Derby, they need to show their mettle in the next match and simply get back on track. For Leicester, if they can produce the performance from Friday more often than not, they will be well placed to win the league.

image: © Jon Candy

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