Will the near misses of the past affect Leeds United’s run-in?
Leeds United fans have seen it all before. A solid Championship campaign that looks to be heading towards promotion until the wheels come off at the last. That’s what happened last season, where Leeds were regulars in the automatic promotion places throughout the campaign before a sticky patch of form towards the end left them to battle it out in the play-offs. A semi-final defeat to Derby County followed, and the Elland Road faithful were, once again, left lamenting what might have been.
Is History About To Repeat Itself For Leeds United
There is a sense that the current campaign is following a similar pattern. For most of the season Leeds have been in the top two, running neck and neck with West Bromwich Albion in a quest for the Championship title. But recent weeks have seen both sides stumble somewhat, and the nature of the division is that any slip-ups will inevitably be punished by the chasing pack, all desperate to reach the promised land of the Premier League.
At the time of writing, Leeds sit in second place in the Championship, three points ahead of third-placed Fulham, and are consistently favourites in the odds on the English Championship title winner.
The Championship Is A Close Fought Race
Behind the Cottagers, the table has never looked tighter, with only six points between Fulham and ninth-placed Cardiff City. This is the time of the season when teams begin to build momentum, and the frontrunners for promotion come to the fore. Leeds lost two games in a row, to Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest respectively, but have since arrested that slide with a hard-fought away draw at Brentford and a win over Bristol City.
In what is shaping up to be an enthralling final leg of the Championship promotion race, it will be interesting to see whether Leeds suffer from the same mental shortcomings that seemed to affect them in prior campaigns. Time and time again, they have threatened to earn promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs, and have consistently fallen short in the end.
That is bound to leave a mark on the players. Leeds are a massive club with a rich history, and when they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, few would’ve believed that 16 years later they wouldn’t have returned to the top flight. It seems that with every year that goes by, the pressure on Leeds to make it back to the Premier League builds and builds.
Is Bielsa The Man To Take Leeds To The Promised Land?
But there is also a feeling that under head coach Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds are better placed than ever to break their duck and make it back to English football’s top table. Bielsa is, in the opinion of many, the best coach in the division, and his tactical nous has brought Leeds to another level since his arrival in the summer of 2018.
Last season’s disappointment will have stung Leeds badly, but lessons will have been learned and this team will now be steeled for the hard-fought, nail-biting run-in that awaits them. There are few leagues in world football as intense and competitive as the Championship – Leeds have found this out more than most – but with Bielsa in charge it feels as though this team is ready to finally win promotion back to the top flight. There’s going to be one heck of a party if they do.