It’s been dark days as a Leeds fan, but this season under the management of Marcelo Bielsa has seen the team fly up to a promotion position. In recent seasons it’s also been looking bright for a while but in some way faded at the end.
At Ashton Gate yesterday Leeds pulled of a strong 1-0 away win after a goal from a player that by many has been seen as one of the brightest talents in English football. Patrick Bamford is still only 25 years of age and has his best years in front of him.
Bamford joined Leeds in the summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £7million, and has since his move from Middlesbrough delivered what is expected from him. He was seen as a Premier League forward, but never played a single game for Chelsea in the top flight, as he faded into Championship football.
Bamford played on loan at a few PL clubs but never really managed to find the goalscoring form as he has found in clubs lower in the league pyramid. 18 goals for MK Dons in 38 league games, 29 for Middlesbrough in 85, and now also scoring on a regular basis for Leeds.
The forward could if this continues for the rest of the season be a key in a promotion for Leeds and their analytical wizard of a manager will probably have seen this in his crystal ball already.
Often analysing a team who makes a promotion from the Championship, you have to find a number of key pointers that will crucial. The age of the squad and team is a key, the right type of background and a balance of youth, experience and previous experiences, maybe a couple of players who have been promoted before and knows how to stay in the race all the way to the goal line.
Often you also see teams going up who have been a bit in and around the play-off’s for a few seasons before, and also building on previous years and not just throwing players in and out with idiotic sales and buys.
So how is this compared to Leeds. Bamford is one that Leeds have missed in previous seasons, a player who can be seen as one in disguise for a while and not really fulfilled his talents elsewhere, but the England U.21 international is always been known for potential and highly spoken about as a good prospect and future PL forward, and even been mentioned as a potential full England international at times.
Polish midfielder Klich is another key player, being in there all season and at the age of 28 in his best years of his career. He is a Polish full international and his past is from top flights around Europe.
Captain Liam Cooper is also in his best age, 27, and a real club player joining from Chesterfield in 2014. Pontus Jansson is also in that age group and at 28 performing better than he has done before. The Swedish international has a past from Serie A and Torino and the Swedish top club Malmo, building on his previous experiences at Leeds.
Luke Ayling is another interesting player also in that age group, and you can see the pattern all together, as these players are in their prime as footballers and no coincidence that their Argentinian mastermind Bielsa has seen this and build a team of the perfect blend.
Macedonian full international Ezgjan Alioski is a utility player, but seen as a great left back alternative. He is also in his prime at 27. Then of course you have that “home grown” up and coming talent in the team, 23 year old Kalvin Phillips fits the bill perfectly and in his central defensive midfield position is growing into something very exciting.
To see one or two “on loan” players from one of the big guns is also seen at Leeds, Jack Harrison is one in great demand and at Elland Road he has been doing his job. The former New York City winger is still a young player at the age of 22.
When you have the young and upcoming you also will find a few very experienced players and in 33 year old Pablo Hernandez you find that player. A Spanish international with a past at Valencia and Getafe and also a few years with Swansea, makes this a perfect set up.
Tyler Roberts is also a player to mention, signed from West Bromwich in the summer for a fee of £2,5million, and shrewd move in the market for youngster who has already played 4 times for Wales, given his debut by Ryan Giggs coming on for Gareth Bale in his debut.
You also have Kemar Roofe, but unfortunately for Bielsa not available at the moment, being out with a knee injury. Stuart Dallas and new goalkeeper Casilla must also be mentioned bringing this squad to a perfect set up and of course their manager Marcelo Bielsa at the helm.
You just pinpoint those key reasons for a team fighting in the top, and you can see that this is all in place for a promotion. What will be crucial for Leeds when they reach the Premier League again is to not upset that balance of keys in a squad build up and just find players who can of course be of even higher standard, but in the right age group and also have the right capacity and abilities to strengthen the team in the best way possible.
It will be very interesting to follow Bielsa as he could bring Leeds United back to the very top with his great ability to see the important keys that always must be in place to build a great football team.