4 More Wins Will See the Whites Finally Get Out of the Championship
Leeds United fans have a lot of reasons to be hopeful this year. Firstly, the club’s performances on the pitch have been nothing short of fantastic under new manager Marcelo Bielsa and they could be playing in the Premier League next year.
Despite the historical place that the club occupies in English football, the last time that they were in the top flight was during the 2003/2004 season. For the Whites, 15 years ago may as well have been a century ago and a return to the Premier League could finally put an end to the agonising wait. With just four more wins needed, automatic promotion is edging close.
None of this would have been possible of course without Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, often referred to as the father of modern football. The 63-year-old Argentine is credited with bringing major changes to the club, one of which is an emphasis on a highly intensive and pressing style of football that he has implemented with his previous clubs. This makes for a high level of entertainment on the pitch too, much to the delight of the fans at Elland Road who are generally not used to seeing this kind of expansive football played. Bielsa’s style of quick and attack-oriented football, even has rival clubs’ fans excited at the prospect of Leeds playing in the Premier League once again.
The downside, however, is that this style of play can often lead to player fatigue. Although they are currently second in the Championship table, The Telegraph reported on Leeds’ narrow defeat to Sheffield United a few weeks ago, and how it now has their Yorkshire rivals breathing down their neck. Despite playing at their usual frenetic pace and dominating most of the game, Leeds, unfortunately failed to keep their composure in front of the goal. For some, this is a sign of Bielsa’s tactics taking their toll. With the season down to its last four games, the Whites need to make sure that they have enough in the tank to survive that final stretch.
Yet all hope is not lost. It would be wise to remember that this is the same team that beat promotion favourites Stoke City on opening day and have won seven of their last ten games. In fact, bwin’s betting odds predict that Leeds United will get automatic promotion from the Championship this season, just behind current leaders Norwich City. And even the board seems to have bought into Bielsa’s long-term vision for the club, going as far as to spend big wages on signings such as Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla in the January transfer window.
Other new signings haven’t been as well received as Casilla with midfielder Lewis Baker, on loan from Chelsea, as well as left-back Barry Douglas who came from, last year’s Championship winners, Wolverhampton Wanderers not playing as much as they’d like. However, Leeds have arguably had some of the best players in the EFL, defensive partnership Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper have been at the top of their games this season. Creative genius Pablo Hernandez and striker Kemar Roofe, who have a combined 26 goals between them so far, have been equally impressive.
“Dramatic fall from grace”
To say that Leeds United fans have been through a lot is putting it mildly: to go as far as the 2000/2001 Champions League semi finals only to be relegated to League One just a few years later makes them one of the few clubs to suffer such a dramatic fall from grace. Moreover, the phrase “doing a Leeds” has even become synonymous with horrendous financial management followed by terrible consequences. Yet, recent wins suggest that the club may just hold out after all, putting an end to what many considered to be one of football’s largest falls from grace. By this time next year, with promotion to the Premier League looming large, “doing a Leeds” could have a completely different meaning.