Will Leeds United Have a Season to Celebrate?
Saturday 18th July was a historic day for Leeds United. This was when their ascent to the top flight in English football was confirmed after West Brom’s own promotion hopes took a blow after a 2-1 defeat by Huddersfield Town.
Leeds United are back in the Premier League.
Huddersfield’s victory over West Brom means Marcelo Bielsa’s side have secured promotion.
Their 16-year wait for a return is over.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 17, 2020
Not since the Tour de France’s 2014 Grand Départ from outside the city’s town hall have the streets of Leeds seen a celebration quite like the one that erupted. After all, United had spent sixteen years in the comparative wilderness since dropping down to the Championship in 2004, despite coming close to promotion a few times since then.
Now the celebrations have subsided, and a bangra-beat version of “Marching On Together” has even been created to mark the team’s achievement, attention is turning to how they may fare in the Premier League.
The Bielsa touch
The most confident and optimistic of fans will surely have total faith in the abilities of Marcelo Bielsa to continue weaving his magic. It’s certainly true he has survived in the Leeds United hot seat, or bucket in his case, far longer than many of their managers during the Championship years. During the time he’s been at Elland Road his eccentric style and novel ideas have certainly captured the imaginations of players and fans alike. There’s no reason to suppose that anything will change next season.
Often the best way to get a prediction of how a team will do is to consider the mood in the Premier League betting markets. At the end of July 2020, Manchester City is at evens to win the league, but there were also some very encouraging odds for Leeds. For example, they’re at 9/4 to achieve a top-half finish and 16/1 to get into the top 6. There’s no denying that either of these will need a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, but neither is out of the question.
Stepping up a grade
A great deal is also going to depend on how the squad adapts to life in the Premiership and a big question is whether Ben White, who has been on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion all season, will be prepared to make the move a permanent one. Working in tandem with captain Liam Cooper in defence, the pair have been hailed as being instrumental in helping to keep a clean sheet in 22 of the 46 games played.
In the midfield, Kalvin Phillips is expected to take the step up in his stride and build on the reputation that is said to have caught Gareth Southgate’s eye and marked him as a potential future international player.
In terms of dedicated strikers, Patrick Bamford may have come in for some stick about his conversion rate, but he’s been responsible for over 20% of all the Leeds goals in the season. Premier League defences will certainly be harder to crack, but he should be up to the task.
So, all in all, it’s looking good for Leeds, with all diehard fans hoping that it’s going to be a season that would have made Jackie Charlton proud.