There was a point, just after we lost that first game just after new year, where many Leeds fans will have had to take a step back and reflect. After going on quite an unbelievable run over the festive period, we lost. It happens. Then we lost again. A bit of a downer but everyone else was dropping points, so not as bad as it could've been. What was remarkable was the sudden and overwhelming onset of doom and gloom from some quarters.
We all know our fair share of pessimists and Lord knows we understand that sentiment. It comes with the territory being a Leeds United fan. What was quite amazing was how this season has turned into a 'do or die' campaign for some folk. People are saying that if we don't achieve promotion this season, we can write it off forever. This is probably down to, at what point did we go from hoping for the playoffs - most of us I think you'll agree would've bitten off the proverbial hand for that last summer - to demanding automatic promotion?
At the start of the season most fans would have been delighted with a play-off spot. Never in our wildest dreams would most of us have expected we'd be top with 18 games to go. The team was certainly better than Paul Heckingbottom kept telling us it was, but equally was it as good as it had shown at times early last season under Thomas Christiansen? The start we had last season gave fans false hope and we were deluded into thinking we had a better side than we had.
Bielsa was the great unknown. His appointment felt like it could be the defining moment on the road back to the top flight. We were linked with several signings but only made two of any note. As such midtable loomed again, but you always have to have optimism at the start of a new season and if we could find a bit more consistency (Based on the best of the Thomas Christiansen reign) then maybe we could threaten the play-offs. However most fans predicted us to lose to Stoke in the first game of the season.
We beat Stoke and dismantled Derby, suddenly the bookies favourites to win the league. But in reality it is still the nucleus of the team that fell apart last season. Bielsa has worked magic with this squad yet still fans question his decisions. It is his unorthodoxness that makes things work. How many coaches go all-out attack when 1-0 down and having a one-man disadvantage? Very few - most try to stay in the game and hope to nick an equaliser. Instead we go all-out attack and completely outplay a team with more players than us. Okay we didn’t get the result in the end but that was amazing to watch.
We have had a dip, but only results wise. Every match this season we have competed, no team has had an easy win against us. Even against West Brom, who ran out 4-1 winners, we were very much in the match until the second goal went in. Even then at 4-0 down this team kept playing and scored the last goal. It may have been in vain but they were still going strong in the 95th minute, same as last week when losing 2-1 we scored at the depth when the match was dead. This team doesn't give up and whilst we have had a dip in results the stats still show we’ve had more possession than the opposition and been creating more chances.
The chances of getting promoted this season are still good. Be it through automatic promotion or through the playoffs, this could be our year. There have been no stand out teams in this seasons Championship. No team is running away with it and it will remain pretty tight until the final weeks of April. The majority of fans are just enjoying this season and it's been made all the more enjoyable because of what we have had to endure since relegation from the top flight. Promotion is not the be all and end all this season though, we should not fear the future if we don't go up.
No longer are we selling players just for the money, we are selling to re-invest. We sold Vieira to buy Bamford and if we sell Clarke, Pontus, Phillips etc then the board has shown that they will re-invest the money and we can sell to strengthen, especially with Bielsa in charge and his ability to get more out of players than other coaches have. Which young players wouldn't want to come to Leeds now? Would Jozefzoon, given the opportunity to pick again, choose to go to Derby where he has stagnated instead of choosing to go to Leeds where he would likely have improved and flourished under Bielsa? The future is rosy whether we go up or not.
Clubs can never achieve success while being run like we have been run for the last 15 years. It's been incredibly painful to watch. From Bates to Cellino it's been one embarrassment after another. Every day checking in to see what's happening, especially during Cellino's tenure, just burying your head in your hands, cringing at what that clown was doing to this club. Andrea Radrizzani has proved to be a breath of fresh air. Everything (Well the new badge and Myanmar aside) he has done off the pitch has been positive and earned him an enormous amount of respect.
We've got an owner who knows what he is doing. He means business and he brought Marcelo Bielsa in to achieve his aim. At least the first part of it anyway. At long last, we're going places.
Content by mothbanquet, weasel and wilsdenwhite from our A Matter of Perspective: Expectations Now and Then discussion thread.
LUFC Expectations, Now and Then