Rio Ferdinand would rather Sheffield receive automatic promotion ahead of Leeds United 7 months ago

Rio Ferdinand would rather Sheffield receive automatic promotion ahead of Leeds United

Not what Leeds United fans will have expected to hear

One would expect that Rio Ferdinand - as an ex-Leeds United player - would be keen to see his former team rise from the Championship and return to the Premier League.

The Yorkshire club has been away from the top flight since their relegation at the end of the 2003/04 and have impressed in their first season under the stewardship of legendary Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa.

They occupied the top spot of the Championship for the vast majority of the season prior to Christmas, but a dip in form has seen them looking increasingly likely to finish at the top of the play-off spots.

This has provoked disappointment from some supporters and criticism from certain pundits, but compared to last season's finish of 13th, the fact that they are up there at this stage of the season is an achievement in and of itself.

Interestingly, in an interview with JOE, Ferdinand revealed that he would rather see the side currently in second place in the Championship, Sheffield United, go up automatically ahead of his old side.

"I'd love to see Leeds in the Premier League. Their fan base, the passion they've got, they'd be a great addition. It's where they should be. I had a great time there, so it'd be fantastic for me to see them there," said Ferdinand, before revealing that, if possible, he'd preferably like Bielsa's side to go up in what now appears like the only way they will.

"I'd like them to go up through the play-offs, because my mate (Chris Wilder) is the manager of Sheffield United so I'd like him to go up, but Leeds to go up through the play-offs."

It's a revelation which is likely to surprise Leeds' fans slightly, the reality is now that the club - barring a total collapse by the Blades - will have to force their way through the chaos that is the play-offs if they want to claim in the Premier League next season.

Leeds face Aston Villa in their penultimate game of the season at midday on Sunday, while Sheffield United's penultimate game comes at home to already relegated Ipswich Town on Saturday evening.