Are Leeds United destined for the play-offs yet again?

06 Oct 2019 09:29 am, by YorkshireSquare

After eleven games there is a certain inevitability setting into Leeds United’s season, an inevitability that the play-offs is our destiny yet again.

Both Marcelo Bielsa and the management of the club have to accept that a small squad isn’t viable in the Championship, but it’s too late now and will cost us. Last season was derailed by an unprecedented amount of injuries and this season has started off with the treatment room just as busy. We suffer too many injuries for a small squad to and the high tempo style and training must play a part in the injuries. Furthermore, the unwillingness to rotate puts extra stress on the players but the insistence on a small squad makes rotation difficult.

The team seems to have a soft underbelly, not physically but mentally. What was about us last season is ringing true yet again. Last season we collapsed in the second half of the season, that can’t be ignored, the issue needs to be solved if promotion is to be achieved. But we are still showing weakness, a lack of mental strength to hold firm until the ninety minute and beyond. Late goals have cost us too many points already this season. To win things you have to be mentally strong and have the right mentality.

The squad as a whole may have had a clear out this summer but the core remains pretty much the same. The same players that have been part of multiple squads, that have dropped off in the second half of the season before. Once, twice, even three times in some cases, do they have that winning mentality? We need winners, players who can cope with the pressure required for a successful promotion campaign.

The key frailty though may be a lack of individual quality in key areas. There is no doubting Ben White, Kalvin Phillips and Pablo Hernandez are class but do the others have the genuine quality required? We have a lot of average players who have performed wonders under Marcelo Bielsa but when it comes to the crunch you need players with that individual brilliance to break the deadlock when things are not going your way.

As a team we are fantastic, the style and tempo is a joy to watch, we dominate possession and number of chances but there is a lack of quality in our delivery, a lack of clinical finishing. We rely on the style more than the individual, but you need individual talent for those key moments. There are a lot of hard working players in the squad but when it comes to the critical moments that isn’t always good enough. Even our ‘big money’ signings have yet to deliver; Douglas, Bamford, Costa haven’t yet repaid their transfer fees.

Costa has been quality in the past and hopefully can be again but its years since he has shown that, Hernandez is the real deal but he is thirty-four and we ask too much for him to carry the team every week. Harrison can be brilliant and awful in the same heartbeat. Bamford works tirelessly but his finishing is not at the level required for a lone striker in this system, Eddie clearly has talent, but he is a kid with very little experience, a lot to ask of a kid in his first season as a main striker. Summer was about correcting the mistakes of last season, about making the marginal gains needed to push on and win automatic promotion.

We had four areas where we needed to add quality; two quality, a top level central defender, a quality number 10 and and a natural proven goal scorer. Whilst Costa and White came in we also lost Jansson and Roofe. All in all the squad remains fairly similar, with the same frailties and weaknesses. We are banking on coaching, the coaching of a genius it must be said, but that can only take you so far. We tried last season and fell short, and it looks as though we may fall short again for exactly the same reasons.

Key moments are often decided by talent not coaching, you can’t coach a cool head, the right pass the right technique, that is where we fall down. It’s in those the lack of genuine class comes through. A deeper squad, more quality in key areas were what was required to secure a top two finish and we failed to provide Marcelo Bielsa with that this summer.

Down to fifth, our lowest position under Bielsa, and an international break meaning it’s a while until the team can respond with a positive result mean the negativity is rife. That said this is not a vintage Championship season, it’s tight at the top but there are no teams running away with it. After all we are still better off than Norwich were this time last season. We could be there or there about come May but you do feel like we need to strengthen this summer rather than resting on our laurels.

Content by cjay from the Playoffs is our destiny thread in our discussion forums.