Leeds United’s Premier League roller-coaster, enjoy the ride!

22 Dec 2020 04:52 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Marcelo Bielsa, world renowned football coach, at the age of 64 accepted a challenge to change the fortunes of a mid-table Football League Championship team comprising of average players, some with more potential than shown, some at the wrong end of their careers. He did not need the money, nor the glory. He is one of, if not the most respected tactical masters of the game in the world. His peers worldwide acknowledge and validate that. So what did he see in this mediocre mid-table Championship team?

He saw a team that he, along with management and owner support he could take to the next level. But mainly because he saw a team of players with potential. A group of players with more to give, a group that he could mould into a team that could play the game the way he thought it should be played. They have become physically fit, knowledgeable and adept not only in their primary position's but adaptable to suit the squad availability and needs and they have bought into Bielsa’s philosophy and style 100%.

Two years on from the start of the project the team gained promotion to the Premier League, as champion's, by a convincing ten clear points no less. In those two years he turned around several players careers. Kalvin Phillips, who himself just recently admitted he was disappointed that Bielsa asked him to play a deeper role has been transformed into an England international defensive midfielder. Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas may never have thought they would have got their chance in the top-tier but here they are excelling in the Premier League. Would this have happened with any other manager?

Marcelo Bielsa turned their careers around, elevated players to a level they never thought possible and they will now be talked about as legends of Leeds United after they retire as opposed to just fading into oblivion. Marcelo Bielsa has turned this bunch of misfits into the best Championship team ever, kings of the second tier of English football with hardly a cheque signed. Not a bad achievement! After 16 years in the wilderness, and we fan's yearning for days of yore, screaming for player's we could not afford and being the laughingstock of the managerial world... we were back!

Fourteen games into our first year back in the Premier League and reality is setting in, so is the panic. Not from Bielsa, but the fans. We spent£ 100 million this summer on four international level players and a brace of youngster with great potential. The development of the squad has now started but the foundation is still the same as the one that got us to where we are. We play to our strengths and until we have more investment, splash more cash, things are not going to change. But change they will as we add to the squad each transfer window.

We are not going to compete with the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and the two Manchester clubs, teams who can and have opened their cheque books for the slightest reason. Yet when we lose to Manchester United like we did on Sunday the world has collapsed, to some it is our biggest and most important game to win. Take it as a compliment that some Manchester United fans, the one that know their history, still think that way also.

The question is do we mess with the fundamental set up of the squad each week to suit the opposition? The results against Chelsea and Manchester United have made Frank and Olly look like geniuses. Man for man both teams were better than us, the same can be said for all of the to six. So our only chance is to play to our strengths! It was a bad day, we payed the price for a very very bad start but we stuck to our guns, kept creating chances and scored two goals. It could have been more! This team, playing the way they do can never be ruled out.

Let’s be honest, a fans, we always want to see them play to our strengths rather than park the bus and hope that we only lose 2-0 or 2-1 because at the end of the day 6-2 or 1-0 is still a loss. Marcelo Bielsa has changed the way we view football, rather play the game in a way that entertains and excites and lose 6-2 than sit back, defend and lose 2-0. It isn’t our style to sit back, the best form of defence for Marcelo Bielsa is to attack and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Despite last weekends result we are in a good position we are still predicted to end the season on 46 points, six more than the target many will have set at the start of the season. Survival has to be the aim this season, whilst building for the future.

Are Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham good teams? Without a doubt they are. Could any of those managers have done what MB did with the same squad of players? I doubt it! Just look what Lampard did at Derby. The common factor in all those teams is the fact they have playboy owners who like to have shiny things, and none of those owners have put the fans and the city before their own interests. We have an owner and a manager who put the fans and the city before their own interests... and long may it be like that.

Whilst we are fundamentally still a Championship squad, with a few additions, it is the very reason why all the league (not just the top 6) "get up" for us. They know we are dangerous and managed by the best with an owner who believes in his manager. We are going nowhere but up. Patience and belief is all that is required. Enjoy the ride!

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