Leeds returned to the Premier League after 16 years

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After 16 years, Leeds United have finally won the Premier League promotion. Leeds are perhaps the most anticipated team in the Premier League. Only Nottingham Forest is at the same level of legend, but the foresters are not yet expected to reach the top echelon.

Few numbers: Leeds have been absent from the top flight for 5907 days since their departure in 2004 – until then, no Premier League club has returned after such a long absence.

Marcelo Bielsa – a real wizard. How else can you explain that he brought an extremely unlucky team to the Premier League in just two seasons? Unsurprisingly, Leeds fans now call Bielsu one of the best coaches in the team’s history.

After relegation in 2004, Leeds were close to returning several times.

After relegation from the Premier League, the club was in dire financial straits. Nevertheless, Kevin Blackwell took over the drowning team and almost brought it to the Premier League, but the money still played its cynical role. In 2007, the club was transferred to external management, which led to a transfer to Ligue 1.

In the 2016/17 season, Leeds under the leadership of Harry Monk also came close to the Championship playoffs, but was five points behind sixth-ranked Fulham. It was unlikely then that the Leeds fans could imagine that they would have to wait very little for a return to the Premier League.

Bielsa could have taken Leeds to the Premier League last season, but a series of dramatic events prevented him from doing so

Bielsa immediately built a great game for Leeds, with the team leading the Championship with a total of 20 rounds. But Leeds flunked the end of the championship and finished only in third place.

But Leeds would have a chance to compete with Sheffield for second place if they beat Aston Villa in the 45th match.

The match was very difficult for both teams, but in the 72nd minute Mateusz Klich managed to open an account and take Leeds forward. While the attack was developing, there was an injured Aston Villa player lying on the pitch, and Leeds did not want to knock the ball out because they needed a win.

After a goal was scored on the field, a scuffle began, but Bielsa did incredibly decently. He told his players to break up so that Aston Villa players could level the score without hindrance.

The match ended 1-1, and Leeds failed to enter the Premier League directly. In the semi-finals of the playoffs, Bielsa’s side was knocked out of Derby County, while Aston Villa ironically defeated Derby in the playoff final to advance to the Premier League.

Marcelo Bielsa did not want to stay at Leeds, but eventually changed his mind and managed to make the team stronger

Bielsa, after the end of the 2018/19 season, thought for a long time whether he should stay at Leeds, but the Italian owner of Leeds Andrea Radrizzani managed to persuade the Argentine to try his luck for another season.

Leeds did not start very confidently, but by the New Year, together with West Bromwich, they were 8 points ahead of the rest of the teams, and by the time the championship was suspended, Leeds were already in the lead. Leeds won five of their seven matches after a hiatus, drew once and lost once. At the same time, Leeds have the best defense in the league – they concede fewer goals per game (34 conceded goals in 44 games).

Perhaps Leeds needed to dust another year in the Championship to get on their feet. Last season, Bielsa’s squad suffered a massive end-season failure as the team simply could not stand the frantic pace that El Loko demands. This season, Leeds have improved both physically and tactically.

Some players compare Bielsa’s training with serving in the army. Marcelo demands high endurance from his players, because only in this case the team will be able to spend all 90 minutes at a super-intensive pace.

High pace is a key success factor for the Bielsa team. On the PPDA metric, which illustrates the intensity of high pressure, Leeds has a score of 8, meaning that, on average, United have made their first offensive defensive action after eight passes. In the Premier League, only Leicester and Liverpool have similar indicators on this indicator – they have this indicator of 7.93 assists – the rest are pressing much less intensively and effectively (City, for example, only have 8.66 PPDA).

One of Leeds’ key players is the 25-year-old defensive player Calvin Phillips… Liverpool is already actively interested in him, and this is not surprising – there are very few worthy players with an English passport in the support zone. He is key in Bielsa’s team because he combines all the qualities that Bielsa needs so much – the ability to apply intense pressure and maintain possession under intense pressure.

Another important player for the Bielsa system is Pablo Hernandez… You may remember him from his performances for Valencia and Swansea, but the Spaniard only reached his real peak when he was 34 when he began playing under Bielsa.

Hernandez is Leeds’ main creative force and has scored 8 goals and 7 assists this season. At the same time, the Spaniard is excellent at pressing and is one of the most important screws in Bielsa’s pressing machine.

Photo: Nick Potts / Getty Images

Burnout is the main problem of Bielsa’s teams

Marcelo Bielsa once said: “My football is very simple – we run all the time.” More precisely, the play of Bielsa’s teams can hardly be described, but this effective style has its own nuances.

In training, Bielsa tries to recreate the gaming atmosphere as much as possible, so his players often play 11v11 without a break at all. “It’s just a normal game with normal rules, 11v11 on the big field,” says Mateusz Klich. “You just play, but you can’t stop running. If you stop, the coach will yell at you, and no one wants that. It’s tough, but this workout is the most important of the week. ”

Ander Herrera, who played under Bielsa at Athletic, said that at the end of the season he simply could not physically run. In 2012, Athletic managed to reach the final of the Europa League and the Spanish Cup, but largely due to physical exhaustion, they failed to win at least one of these tournaments.

Nevertheless, Herrera notes that such a load as a whole went to the team’s benefit. “We ran the fastest and the most. Nobody could surpass us in physical fitness, it was simply impossible. ”

A similar thing happened to the players in the previous season – Leeds literally leaked the ending of the championship and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs from the not very strong Derby County.

Perhaps this season, physical decline was avoided due to a long quarantine – the team received a temporary respite and managed to avoid the hassle in the end.

It should also not be forgotten that there are 8 more rounds played in the Championship than in the Premier League, although everyone considers the Premier League to be the most intense championship. In Thorn, the density of games is even greater, so the players simply get an inadequate load on the body.

The promotion will give Leeds an excellent financial opportunity. Bielsa has never had such a large budget

Let’s count. Each Premier League team is given a guaranteed £ 12.3 million for participation before the season. Another £ 1.1 million is transferred for each game broadcast. All in all, one team has an estimated profit of £ 200m from reaching the Premier League. Moreover, if Leeds are successful in the Premier League, then TV payouts will be even higher.

Bielsa is likely to receive a significant portion of this amount for reinforcement. It is unlikely that the Argentine had any similar budgets at Marseille, Lille, Lazio or Athletic.

But the big budget will not be the only advantage for Leeds in the transfer market. A large stadium, a huge and dedicated fanbase and a world-renowned coach will almost certainly attract good options for Leeds to strengthen. If the squad is sufficiently staffed, then Bielsa will have additional opportunities for rotation. This means that the team will not approach the final segment of the championship with completely exhausted players.

In any case, making predictions before the end of the transfer window is just shaking the air. But one thing we can be absolutely sure – with El Loko in the Premier League it will not be boring for sure.

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