Marcelo Bielsa Weighs up Leeds United’s Crucial Championship Run In – by Rob Atkinson


Leeds United fans will need no reminder as to the importance of finishing inside the top two. The Championship playoffs are effectively cup ties and, no matter what the final league placings may have been, those three matches at the end of a long season can be reduced to a lottery.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side have stuttered at times this season and January’s final away fixture produced a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers. Hope, however, has been stirred by a string of poor results by league leaders West Bromwich Albion. Automatic promotion is within Leeds’ grasp but what will it take to get over the line?

Setting the Standard

Marcelo

All sides at the top of the Championship can be inspired by Sheffield United’s exploits this season. Promoted into the top flight at the end of 2019/20, the Blades were among the favourites to go down this year but an impressive first half of the campaign means that Chris Wilder’s men look perfectly safe. In fact, Sheffield United are now 6/1 in the Premier League betting markets for a top six finish.

The Blades should give Leeds hope moving forward, but firstly, they have to get into the top flight. Crucial fixtures lay in wait but perhaps the most important game of all is already out of the way. The third round FA Cup defeat to a second-string Arsenal side would have been disappointing but promotion is a priority and the knockout competitions can prove to be an unnecessary distraction.

Another positive is that Leeds have already played league leaders West Brom twice, picking up a useful four points in the process. Fellow promotion hopefuls Fulham and Brentford await but the majority of Leeds’ remaining fixtures are against sides in mid-table or in the bottom half.

Cutting Edge

Patrick Bamford’s penalty miss against QPR was blamed, in part, on the section of the crowd that are getting on the striker’s back. It was unfortunate and unhelpful but that miss does highlight one area that the club needs to address.

Bamford is the man charged with scoring the goals that will take Leeds United back into the top flight but with just ten strikes in his first 27 league matches of 2019/20, it’s a record that needs to improve. With Eddie Nketiah recalled to Arsenal at the start of January, striking options could make the difference between automatic promotion and another nervous battle in the playoffs.

The Verdict

It’s widely perceived that scoring is a concern but, going into the end of January, Leeds United had a healthy return of 43 league goals. That tally compares favourably with any side in the top six, but, so far, the defence has been key to the club’s progression. At the same point in time, Leeds had conceded just 24 goals – seven less than leaders West Brom.

Yes, Bamford does need to improve and, with Nketiah going back to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, his need for competition has now been met with the loan signing from RB Leipzig of Jean-Kevin Augustin. As for the fixtures, if Leeds United can avoid defeat against promotion rivals while picking off the sides at the bottom, another playoff horror show can be comfortably avoided.

15 responses to “Marcelo Bielsa Weighs up Leeds United’s Crucial Championship Run In – by Rob Atkinson

  1. We have to be on the front foot from the kick off, as this is our best form of defence.
    We cannot afford to be without Kalvin, for his defensive side.
    Klich is also vital, and must be more consistent.
    His miss against Millwall was horrible for a player of his skill.
    We have spent very little, and should have brought in a centre back and a midfield player. Not a lot is said about our goalkeeping situation, even though Kiko’s possible suspension could be our undoing?
    The new signings should inspire Pat & Helda to up their game.
    We need more goals from midfield too.
    i am hopeful that we can go on a run and build our confidence.
    The run of the ball and better refereeing would be nice!!
    Adam Forshaw is really missed, and may not play many games, so cover should have been brought in for his position.
    Pablo seems to have the bit between his teeth, and is our key man for promotion.
    There’s nowt like being a Leeds fan!!
    Other clubs are dull by comparison.
    Heard about the Man U ‘fans’ who attacked one of their executive’s home this week,
    because they are not top of the Prem’!!!!

    MOT!!

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  2. Life is LUFC

    Agree with you all the way here Rob.
    We need 200% from the players and 300% from the fans. Between the two it can be done and I sincerely hope it will be done.
    Those players proved themselves on Tuesday night that they have the passion there despite what went on on that pitch.
    They also have a bit more depth with the new signings. Come on boys your nearly there and we’ll stay with you every step of the way. MOT

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  3. Reality Cheque

    Your post perfectly demonstrates how quickly optimism can return in the space of a week in the Championship Rob

    Hope has now been returned by our fantastic fight back against the 12 men of Millwall (11 players & a visually impaired totally biased referee) with Mr Bamford scoring TWICE against yet another opponent’s keeper playing his best game of the season against us. Add to that the recruitment of TWO top quality forwards with days to spare in the transfer window and it truly looks like we are entering the business end of the season with refreshed impetus

    Hopefully Wigan will not have a player sent off on Saturday thereby allowing us to avoid a repeat of last seasons implosion and our new signings can then help us take maximum points from the following two very tough away games within 4 days of each other against form teams (and closest automatic promotion rivals) Brentford & Nottingham Forest

    Finally lets hope that Adam Forshaw’s frustrating hip injury is resolved in time for him to make a contribution to the final run in of our season. It must be no fun at all and very frustrating having to watch games from the stands month after month with still no accurate prognosis. I am pretty certain that if Adam had actually undergone hip REPLACEMENT surgery back in September he may have been closer to full fitness by now! Chin up Adam and here’s hoping your back on the team sheet very soon

    PS What an amazing demonstration of a player’s integrity & loyalty by “Big Kev” to shun the repeated attempts by Scumchester to derail us signing him. Clearly, he wanted to come & play for Leeds United and their “absolutely amazing” fans!!! I think he’s going to be very popular Rob. ALAW

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  4. Mr Rearguard

    “but the majority of Leeds’ remaining fixtures are against sides in mid-table or in the bottom half.”…………….That’s what worries me.

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  5. Life is LUFC

    Rob I hope to goodness the Leeds lads have turned off their social media apps. It is getting positively toxic and mentally abusive and not one player has escaped, neither has Mr Bielsa. There are still 16 games to go of which 8 are home games. It can still be done, just have faith and be positive.
    Any criticism needs to be CONstructive not DEstructive.
    If you look at the points so far, 55 in 31 games, work on an average on of 2 points per game, 62. Leeds have dropped 7 points equal to 2.3 games. I’m just being positive. MOT

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    • Thank goodness we still have some positive fans 👍

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    • The Squad don’t have to look at any media ‘opinions’ to know they are off the boil.
      If the social media turns ‘positive’, ignoring the woeful performances in most games in recent times, it will not transform the boys.
      They know all the statistics, and every team in the top 8 will know there are plenty of games left, for any team to go on a winning run.
      As the pressure mounts, it takes mentally strong players to perform to their best ability.
      ER will get tougher!
      Not from criticism, but from the supporters being fully behind the team!!
      We have seen it before, and history does seem to repeat itself on occasion.
      Honest assessments of the teams performance is neither DEStructive or CONstructive.
      ‘Being positive’ means nothing.
      ‘Being negative’ means nothing.
      It is out of our control!!
      It is completely in the hands of Mr Bielsa and the boys.
      It amazes me that in the January window, we dither our way through and end up with a striker who may no play in the first team for 2/3 months – Mr B’s assessment.
      Watching the U23’s yesterday he looks overweight and off the pace.
      But what do I know??
      What goes Victor know??

      MOT!!

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      • And yet some of the players have admitted negative social media output does get to them. Or are they perhaps just looking for excuses? It seems we mustn’t ever blame the fans – even when they’re acting like a virtual lynch mob

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      • The team leads, and the fans follow.
        To blame fans for a weak performing squad is not fair Rob.
        It is a chain of events.
        1. The owner sells our best defender and our best goalscorer, leaving us with a weaker squad.
        2. The squad is too small for a campaign in the Championship.
        3.In Orta we have someone whose judgement of a player is severely lacking.
        4.Just the latest in a long line of woeful players.
        5. The club has spent more time trying to get rid of them, than recruiting quality players.
        6. The 33 players we have moved on shows how bad our recruitment is!
        7. The fans have known we are underdone, and if we end up as we usually do, Mr Bielsa will go, and we will be no further on.
        8. It is vital when you bring players in in January, that they are, experienced in UK football, and are fit enough to slot in quickly.

        As the club are responsible for all this, it is unfair to blame the fans, who have put up with the greedy idiots running our club.

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      • I’ve considered that point by point, and I agree with none of it.

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      • Oh Rob you are a one! LOL
        Here are some of Victor’s most recent recruits:-

        Paudie O’Connor
        Jay-Roy Grot
        Aapo Halme
        Samu – good while he lasted Saiz
        Hadi Sacko
        Machuca
        Caleb Ekuban
        Izzy Brown – badly injured when he arrived.
        Tyler Roberts – ” ” ” ” ”
        Lewis Baker
        Hugo Diaz
        C. Alonso
        ideguchi
        Sarkic
        Du Bock
        Pawel Cibicki
        Rafa Mujica
        Connor Shaughnessy
        Vernon Anita
        Quasim Buoy

        MOT

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      • Henry, you’re in danger of becoming a pain, I’m afraid. And with this tirade of negativity, you’re simply proving my point about the kind of “support” we DON’T need. Now behave, or you’re going to get gagged.

        Like

  6. andrew hinks

    all Henry’s points are spot on as most intelligent, caring supporters are more than aware & its factual, so true!

    if we had kept pontus , kemar & BPF we would have no need of a january window as would have a varied ‘competitive’ squad (another 2 goalies ‘on loan’ when we had a fine up & coming one BPF, already insitu’..jeez !) in all areas for the gruelling 46 game championship haul & as for paying premier league wages now, hence spin’ kinnear stating radz is forking out a million pounds a month! what’s that about?

    as these are mostly journeyman average championship players who should only be rewarded WHEN they achieve promotion, like Marcelo & his staff will be (hopefully?)
    then radz & spin bleat about FFP & profit & sustainability ( a contradiction in terms if ever there was !!)
    obviously & of course the contracts given out are for decent sell off transfer fees for the very same players in the event of the financial implosion which WILL OCCUR in failure to get promotion in may?

    PLEASE dont forget spin KINNEAR’s stupid statement of “were not gonna dick around with the play-offs this time round” for once he speaks the truth as 7th place looms large with possible defeats at forest & brentford & home to Bristol city??

    orta boasts off his 8000 reports on players round the world (AKA ‘waifs & strays’) yeah we know all about them as we’ve have had about 50 of them thru the door these last two seasons giving NOTHING but a loss in the profit & sustainability column you reap what you sow im afrai & the classic a ‘sleepwalking ‘ left wing back (laurens de sleepwalker’ de bock!!) who admitted to nodding off during games!….oh but we’ll buy him anyway, 1.5m & a four year deal!!!

    the faithful & me have put buckets of hard earned money into our club to get it moving but once again we have ‘smoke & mirrors’ ownership pleading poverty? (ambiguity in its finest form!!)

    please beat forest & get something @ Brentford?

    we live in hope!

    Kent white since 1969 aged 8, ive had the season tickets, membership cards (worthless @ £40 a time oops, sorry it was £42,i forgot he bought a new rudder also plus Michael ‘the dustman Brown’ for our midfield. silly me!), please see cap’n Birdseye bates’ new starboard engine paid for fund!!) never again my friend until we are run prudently with ambition matching all our loyal fans deep pockets as once again being hoodwinked IMO?

    one day maybe, one day?

    Like

  7. andrew hinks

    of course rob & i hope i’m soooo wrong obviously!

    i’ve always been the pessimist (its a LEEDS thing!) especially after the fallow years & owners pilfering all for their own benefit!

    on to forest now
    c’mon LUFC……. ‘keep fighting’

    we need at least 4 points IMO!

    Like

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