The best promoted side in Premier League history?

25 May 2021 09:42 pm, by YorkshireSquare

After sixteen years out of the top-flight expectations for Leeds United’s first back in the Premier League were mixed. Many fans would have been happy with 17th place and survival whilst others backed a finish in the European places on all their football bets, as it turned out the more positive amongst us weren't far off. Leeds went into the final game of the season with the chance of a place in the UEFA Conference still an outside possibility. In the end, we just missed out (which was probably a good thing) finishing 9th with an extremely respectable 59 points. Is there an argument that this Leeds United side are the best promoted side in Premier League history? There is certainly a case to be made!

Officially Marcelo Bielsa’s side are the fourth most successful promoted side in Premier League history behind the Nottingham Forest team of 1994/95, Newcastle United of 1993/1994 and Ipswich of 2000/2001. Those teams managed a total of 77, 77 and 66 points respectively. However, there is an argument for discounting the Forest and Newcastle sides for a few reasons. Firstly with 22 teams in the Premier League back then it was a 42 game season. Secondly the gulf financially between the Premier League and the Football League had not yet reached todays levels, te disparity between the haves and have nots had not yet truly materialised.

For those reasons it’s not really possible to compare us to Newcastle and Forest because it was effectively a totally different playing field. That brings us to George Burley's Ipswich. Now they were a very impressive side who scored a good amount of goal, weren’t overly defensive and played in an era where the gulf between the haves and the have nots was a bit more obvious. So it is hard to choose between that Ipswich side and Leeds United’s class of 2010/2021.

Marcelo Bielsa’s team blow away the competition purely because of their attacking style of play, Leeds are officially the most attacking promoted side in Premier league history, 62 goals is a record in a 38 game season. Sides promoted to the Premier League who try to play attacking football usually end up relegated (Norwich, Fulham and Blackpool) or scrape by (Bournemouth finished 16th in the 2015-2016 season). Some teams made it work better in fairness, Sunderland in 1999/2000 were an attacking side with Quinn and Phillips scoring plenty but Leeds beat their points total, scored more goals and conceded fewer so they are out of the equation too.

By and large the most successful Promoted teams in the last decade, during which time the gulf in finances between the promoted sides and non-promoted sides has been at its largest and still growing, have been defensively solid counter attacking teams. Think Wolves and Sheffield United in recent seasons. So, to play as attacking as Leeds have this season and still beat the points totals and goal differences of every promoted side for 20 years is a phenomenal achievement. With the 17th most expensive squad in the league Leeds are by far the highest achievers in terms of points per million pounds spent.

The 59 points accumulated by Leeds United would have seen them 7th in all of the last four seasons and is a reflection of how competitive the top half of the Premier League has been this season which gives this Leeds side even more credit. In fact Villa's 55points has always been enough for a top 10 Premier league finish whilst it has been a 38 game season, it has actually been enough to finish 7th in fairly recent times.

That all goes to show how competitive this season has been and to post a record points total in 20 years during a season like that, playing the most attacking football by a promoted side in decades is a phenomenal achievement. So it may be hard to separate Leeds from Ipswich and Forest and Newcastle fans may feel aggrieved but all things considered it’s fair to say, with a fair amount of evidence, that Marcelo Bielsa’s side are the best newly Promoted Premier league side ever, certainly of the modern era.

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