Leeds United are considered to be one of the biggest football clubs in England and in spite of the club’s recent troubles, they have a history that is enough to make any team envious.
There was once a time when Leeds United versus Manchester United was considered to be a David versus Goliath encounter in the Premier League, and people flocked into the respective stadiums voicing their support towards their team and showing full hostility towards the opponents.
However, things have fallen downhill since the turn of the century with the Whites going into administration and finding themselves in the third tier of English football. The club though continued making the headlines.
They managed to pull themselves up to the Championship and with Massimo Cellino taking over, Leeds United kept courting controversies not only for their clueless dealings but also for their notorious record of changing managers.
The post-Cellino era has brought back credibility somewhat, with Andrea Radrizzani taking over and showing some intent. They managed to rope in veteran Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa, and over the course of the two seasons, the 64-year-old has made his intentions clear of taking the Peacocks back to where they think they belong – the Premier League.
Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the football leagues to an abrupt halt, Leeds United were well on course to secure promotion back to the Premier League after having failed to do so last season. They were at the top of the Championship table, leading second-placed West Bromwich Albion by one point with nine games left to be played.
Whatever happens next, all the possibilities suggest that Leeds United will be back playing in the Premier League next season. So, here are three things to expect if the Whites return to the top tier.
#1 Resumption of old rivalries
Leeds United share age-old rivalries with two top Premier League teams – Manchester United and Chelsea. The sale of Rio Ferdinand to the Red Devils for £30 million back in 2002 was just the spark needed to ignite a bonfire. It resulted in a fallout between then manager David O’Leary and club chairman Peter Ridsdale, eventually resulting in the sacking of the former. The Leeds fans didn’t take the sale dearly and expressed their disagreement.
Another of Leeds’ fierce of rivals are Chelsea, who are now managed by club legend Frank Lampard. The relationship between Marcelo Bielsa and Lampard reached a new low last season when the veteran Argentine admitted to sending staff to watch Derby County train from a nearby field. Lampard, who was then the manager of Derby, later questioned the decision to award Bielsa a FIFA Fair Play award.
If Bielsa manages to take Leeds to the Premier league next season, all those rivalries could resume and make the league even more interesting.
#2 Marcelo Bielsa’s antics in the Premier League
With over 30 years of managerial experience under his belt, the Marcelo Bielsa is well-known for bringing the best out of even the worst units. When he took charge of Leeds United in the summer of 2018, the Yorkshire outfit were just another side struggling to find their feet in the Championship, let alone challenge for a playoff spot.
Bielsa took the bull by the horn, introducing tough training schedules that became notorious for wearing out the players.
One such training schedule is called the “murderball” training program – a term coined by the players themselves. It involves 11 players being pitted against another 11 on the training pitch, with no option to rest. There are a number of coaches on the sidelines, shouting instructions to the players, not allowing them even a moment of rest.
While this can be tiring for the players, often causing injuries, they have adapted well to it, even going on to like it. Mateusz Klich has been one, who after failing to make an impression under Thomas Christiansen, has gone on to become an integral member of Bielsa’s squad.
Bielsa in the Premier League would mean interesting press conferences, where a translator will become very important, in addition to the introduction of interesting names – whether they are of different types of training programs or playing techniques.
#3 The electric atmosphere inside Elland Road
There are few stadiums across the world that has the ability to create an atmosphere as intimidating as the Elland Road. The Yorkshire giants have generations of supporters behind their back and when they flock together to sing their song inside the stadium, there can hardly be any place as electrifying as Elland Road.
The fans, who have stuck with their team through their tough times, will rejoice at the prospect of their old rivalries with Manchester United and Chelsea being resumed and attend the games in numbers to show their support for the team.
As a result, the sale of season tickets will be on the rise and the club will have more revenue in their kitty. A significant amount will also come in if they manage to win the Championship en route to returning to the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa will thus have more money to spend in the transfer market and may be next season, Leeds United will turn out to be the giant killers and make life difficult for all the big clubs in the division.
A lot though will depend on how the governing bodies decide to drop the curtain on an eventful season. Obviously, the players would love to get the job done on the pitch in front of their fans but they will not be totally unsatisfied if it is done in any other way – playing behind closed doors or win it on a point-per-game basis.
Either way, it will be a delightful sight for the football fans to see Leeds United back to where they belong. Rangers have done that in Scotland and Leeds United are close to doing it south of the border.
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