Leeds United knew they were getting a manager of real pedigree when they brought in Marcelo Bielsa in the summer, but they may not have expected the philosophical football tactician’s methods to take hold as quickly as they have done.
The Whites have had a stunning start to the Championship this season, and go into the first international break at the top of the league with 14 points. Will the Yorkshire club make it back to the promised land of the Premier League this time out, or is the Bielsa bubble about to burst?
Leeds have been playing the best they have in years under the stewardship of El Loco, who has brought in a more possession-based attacking brand of football to the delight of fans.
What a difference a summer has made at Elland Road, as Bielsa has taken much of the same squad as last term and turned them into a devastating force.
In fact, last season’s reject Mateusz Klich has been one of the standout performers under the new boss, after barely getting a look in last term under two separate managers. The Poland international has even earned a call-up to the national side for his efforts for the Whites, which have yielded three goals and one assist after six games.
As it stands, Leeds are the bookies’ prime candidates to win promotion along with Middlesbrough. Both sides can be backed at 4/1 in the football betting to lift the title, and after the 0-0 showdown prior to the international break, there is clearly not much to split the two sides.
However, Leeds fans have learnt the hard way that things can change quickly in football.
Leeds were flying high at the top of the league at the same point in time last season. They had 14 points from their first six games under Thomas Christiansen, and the belief at Elland Road was tangible.
However, it was after the trip to play Millwall at the Den that things started to unravel for the Whites. Christiansen’s men lost that fixture 1-0, then preceded to lose seven of the next ten games. United never managed to recover from that drastic dip in form, and the Dane was sacked shortly after New Year.
Now Leeds face a trip to Millwall again after the Championship resumes, and there is a serious worry that it could have the same effect as the encounter last term. The Lions have an exceptional record against Leeds on their turf, and have won the last four matches there.
Neil Harris’s men are notoriously resilient in front of their home fans, and it will be a test of Bielsa’s credentials if he can work out a way to get the better of them.
At the moment, Leeds look like the real deal under Bielsa, but there is still the worry that things could quickly come unstuck as they did last time out. The title contenders need to get a good result in London after the break and continue to push on from there.
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