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And so the new Championship season starts again today for Leeds United. Last season was full of mixed emotions for Leeds United fans, the team massively overachieved and yet given the position we were at Christmas it could be seen as somewhat of a failure not to gain promotion. What can we learn from last season and where do people think we will finish in the league? Leeds are bookies favourites to win the Championship but following a poll of our members it seems the fans aren’t so sure. All of the respondents think we will finish top half with 38% thinking we will gain automatic promotion and 49% thinking we will make the play-offs.
A lot of factors come into play in terms of exactly where we will finish. The positive fans think if we are a bit more clinical we could win the title at a canter, last year we dominated chances in all but a handful of matches and with us being a year wiser we should see some players improving, noticeably the likes of Harrison. There is an argument that we are no longer a surprise team or that teams have worked us out but nobody really worked us out last season. It wasn't like we changed tactics but yet nobody really dominated a match against us - the closest being WBA in the first meeting although the score line flattered them. We were still dominating possession and creating far more chances at the end of the season, we just weren’t taking them.
Are there concerns defensively? Maybe, and we are always going to concede goals, it is a price that has to be paid when you play Bielsa ball but the risks are definitely worth it. Do we need to change our mentality on the pitch? That buzz term ‘game management’ comes to mind. Last season we should have beaten both Wigan and Derby but we lost the plot and panicked. We need to learn how to win or even draw certain games as the top two clearly did last season. Winning games scruffily is not a bad habit, we can't be showing the naivety as we did against Derby when we were two goals up, hopefully we've learned from our mistakes. We know Bielsa will not compromise on his style and philosophy, we will not sit back but we have to remain tight and solid when we have a lead.
On the flip side those who are not so positive find it hard to believe we can perform as well as we did last season, especially after the tough summer we have had. As everyone knows, we had the best chance of promotion in years last season but blew it spectacularly. And there will be more pressure on Leeds this season, we’re the bookies favourites after all. The so called TV experts giving it what about how we blew it last season, not to mention the glare of the spotlight thanks to Sky showing most of our matches. Injuries will also play a big factor, how come we get so many? Should we get carried away on the basis of last season or will this season end up being a massive reality check?
Who knows what this season will hold, there are so many variables. Last season without the distraction of spygate perhaps our form wouldn’t have faded and we would be starting this season as a Premiership team. If we can keep the distractions and sideshows out of the way this season it can only help our cause. The curve ball now is of course Roofe’s seemingly certain move to Anderlecht. Any success is dependent on Orta bringing in a proven replacement for him. We cannot rely on Bamford alone, especially not with the form he is taking into the new season. Yes, the attacking line of Costa, Harrison and Pablo will all chip in but teams don’t get promoted with one recognised first team striker.
The one thing we do know is, if this season is anything like last season it’s going to be one hell of a ride with again.