Why statement victory will have a big impact as Leeds United prepare for huge summer
13 Apr 2021 07:35 am, by YorkshireSquare
Leeds United recorded one of the most surprising victories of the season when they beat Manchester City away from home. Beating Pep Guardiola’s side given their form was a fantastic achievement, but to do it with ten men makes it even more remarkable. It may not impact the title race, or propel the Whites into European contention, but it’s a result that will be remembered for some time.
A look at the latest Premier League betting odds shows Marcelo Bielsa’s men have little to play for on the face of it as they have odds of 50/1 to finish in the top six. A top-seven finish is in sight, although it may be too much of an ask when you consider Leeds’s tough fixture list.
Therefore, the focus for key figures at Elland Road will be on next season, which is all about improving and kicking on. To do that, new signings will be needed, and fans will already be looking forward to the window opening. Pleasingly, outside of the real elite in the league, Leeds will be an extremely attractive option to potential signings.
The appeal of Bielsa is obvious. The Argentinian has a brilliant reputation within the game, particularly on the continent, so individuals will jump at the chance of playing under the great man. Then, you have the ambition of the club. As we know, owner Andrea Radrizzani doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. Instead, this is just the first step, with the challenge now to break into the top half consistently and to bring European football back to Yorkshire. It’s results like the one at City that help so much on that front as it backs up all the talk that comes out from the club, with players seeing for themselves what Leeds are like.
The tactical approach, the system, the togetherness, the quality. It was all on show in 90+ minutes at the home of the future champions. It also saw the team display a defensive solidity that had been lacking at times this season. This was proof that the Whites can mix it with the best and it was proof that Bielsa’s demanding methods pay off.
Then, you have the influence of the new signings. Diego Llorente has started to show why he is a highly rated Spanish international after finally getting a run of games, whilst Raphinha’s talent is clear to see. Watching new recruits improve, particularly the Brazilian winger, will convince other players that they can thrive under Bielsa. Leeds’s rise under the former Athletic Bilbao manager should not be downplayed. He has taken a group that consists of many Championship players and they are sitting comfortably in the top-flight, while playing stylish, attacking football.
In many ways though, that is the easier bit. Breaking into the top half, or top six, on a consistent basis is a major obstacle, as the Whites will be up against some of the biggest spenders in world football. However, with Bielsa, anything feels possible. Leeds fans have believed that since he walked through the door, and the win at Manchester City was evidence that they are heading to the top under his guidance.