Sixteen long years – has been the absent time that Leeds United has suffered outside of the English Premier League. After Marcelo Bielsa came within a grasp of Premier League glory last season, the fierce manager left no room for error during the 2019/2020 Championship season. Leeds United are promoted into the EPL, but what’s in store for the North English club?
Post-Christmas form let Leeds United hopes of Premiership glory slip from their grasps last season with a mere one-point separating them from second place. Their opportunity of automatic promotion disintegrated, luckily, playoff hopes were still alive for Leeds United fans. That was until Derby collapsed their plans during their second-leg playoff encounter.
The 2018/2019 season wasn’t going to haunt the mind of Marcelo Bielsa; his Leeds United squad has happily sat in first place for the majority of the 19/20 season, post and pre-coronavirus pandemic. Eighty-seven points taken from forty-four domestic fixtures handed Leeds United the trophy with two games remaining in the season.
The sixteen-year wait is over, “Dirty Leeds” is back in the Premiership and personally – as a massive fan of 90’s soccer I couldn’t be happier to see the landscape of the Premier League become more reminiscent of my childhood soccer-days.
The last time we saw Leeds compete in the EPL, they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea (May 2004) – to put things into perspective –Thierry Henry was one the Premier League’s highest-ranked players, it’s been a while and fans wouldn’t have expected such a wait in return to top-flight action. In-fact, it took Leeds United three years playing in the Championship before relegation into League One became their next hurdle in club competition.
Fun Fact: James Milner is the only player from the Leeds United side who was relegated in 2004 who still competes at the highest level and funnily enough, he has been a vital role in Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League-winning squad this season.
What’s next for Leeds United & Marcelo Bielsa
Conquering the Championship was just the first of Bielsa’s worries, now the highly praised coach is faced with the highest level of soccer talent on the planet.
I wouldn’t expect much nerve’s or worry from Bielsa, it’s taken him two seasons to shift Leeds United into the Premier League, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it took him another two years to establish the club in the division.
A man of integrity and strong morals, the first dealings for Leeds United as a club would be to extend Bielsa’s contract which expires this summer. Watching him exit his Volkswagen Golf before they clashed with Derby, and pay attention to the disabled fan; proved what Bielsa is all about. I wouldn’t expect the manager to leave Leeds United, but questioning his integrity could steer his interests from his managerial position. The executives of the Leeds board should be careful not to disgruntle the coach; working together will be the best outcome.
Rumours have emerged that an investment boost for Leeds United could be around the corner, as Billionaire owners are now favourites to complete a considerable takeover of the club. With this in mind, it could help with the financial struggles that Leeds may come across, and previous club takeovers helped take teams such as Manchester City to unforeseen heights.
Financial problems won’t be the forefront of Bielsa’s mind, but more-so a competitive with other top coaches in his bracket of talent. Pep Guardiola went on record to praise Bielsa and remind the press that his success should be of no surprise.
Leeds aren’t guaranteed success during the 2020/2021 English Premier League season, but we haven’t seen such a talented and well-bonded team since the arrival of Sheffield United. Leeds has a high chance of concurring the first season back at the top, so long as the club’s directors can keep the majority of squad and management that put them here.