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There is no doubting that we played some fabulous football earlier on in the season, Leeds United were the talk of the Championship. But for all those praising Bielsa ball there were those waiting for the bubble to burst and ‘pop’ there it went with defeat to Birmigham City. It’s fair to say we haven’t hit the same form since then, a mixture of wins, loses and draws due to injury and inconsistent performances.
But this is the Championship and all the early front runners have suffered highs and lows and despite our inconsistent form we remained in the hunt taking top spot back with a win against Wigan. Still in the hunt for promotion, you can hop over to here to back the team to make it to the Premier League. Then came West Brom, four second half goals from the Baggies with only a late consolation from Pablo Hernandez gave us our worst defeat of the season. West Broms own recent form had been poor after the early season high of stuffing QPR seven one.
A reality check some might say. But we are Leeds United fans, fifteen years out of the top flight and a rollercoaster ride of a past means we are generally pretty grounded anyway. A Leeds fan learns never to get too carried away, because it usually ends in tears anyway. Even when we were setting the Championship alight earlier on in the season most people were expecting the inevitable fall from grace just as we did last season.
As has been pointed out many a time the team starting every week is largely the same team that played last season. We have spent nowhere near as much as our rivals, have a small squad size and have been unlucky with injuries but we are still there or there about. The Championship is after all the most competitive of all the celestial gambling related football leagues, everyone is capable of taking points of everyone else and has done so far. There are only 7 points between first and tenth. Norwich, a team we soundly beat earlier on in the season, are now top after a streak of five wins.
The international break gives us time to reflect on our recent results and if any manager in this league is capable of analysing performances it is Marcelo Bielsa. But he must reflect on his own decisions and selections too. It’s clear he favours certain players over others but there has very much been a sense of square pegs in round holes when perhaps more appropriate players have been available in particular positions. This was in particular evidence against West Brom when we were overrun and caught out in several areas of the pitch.
Has the bubble burst? No, it was always going to be a long season. Was West Brom a reality check? Perhaps but we always knew the quality and depth of our squad. Is our season over? Absolutely not, we’ve beaten some of the best teams in this league and can continue to do so. With teams taking points off each other left right and centre any team that goes on a run will find themselves up at the top. There is no reason we can’t still be in contention come the end of the season.