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The Nearly Men

A story of redemption
Started on 28 June 2019 by JT
Latest Reply on 8 September 2019 by TheLFCFan
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Your form certainly reflects your league position. Hopefully a bit more consistency can be found when you make the suitable changes you plan on making in the January window.
Avoid the young center backs! A tough year and not quite where you want to be at the moment in time. But with the large number of players joining in the summer was always going to have a chance of inconsistency. Hopefully the squad can be trimmed down and the results start coming in!
I wouldn't write off top six just yet, to be honest. You're midway through the season and it could be now that teams begin to drop off. You never know in football. You've done well with the limitations you have, anyway, but I certainly believe top 6 remains a real possibility.

Leeds United - January 2021 - Winter Window

Transfers

I wanted to shake up the team a little in January and that is certainly what i did as i made some tasty profits on a couple of players whilst getting two more out on loan. Jordan Lukaku was sold on moving to Newcastle for £13m having joined for just £4.4m 18 months ago. He was now second fiddle to the emerging Junior Firpo and represented good money for someone starting to dislike the little game time he was getting. The other outgoing was young Francis Amuzu who left for £10.25m moving to Everton in the Championship. Not bad for a man who joined on a free in the same window as Lukaku and was not getting near the first team this season.

We also moved Olimpiu Morutan and Vincent Jannsen on loan with the former going to Portugal whilst Janssen is trying to resurrect his career in France. Young 17 year old keeper Sherwin Greaves joined Blackburn on loan for the rest of the season as a new keeper came into Elland Road.

Yep that's right there were some incomings, two of which joined from Everton. Kik Pierie was the first in signing for £11m to replace the outgoing Lukaku as another option at left back. I have been scouting him for awhile and although not as quick as Lukaku he is a better defender in my opinion. The second man in from Everton was Jordan Pickford who had enough of playing in the Championship and joins for £9.5m. A bargain for his ability and experience and he will compete with Casilla for the rest of the season with the Spaniard likely to be shipped out in the summer in my continual pursuit of youth.

Talking of youth i added in U19 England International Kevin Mahon for £3.8m from West Brom. The regen will likely sit with the U23's for the rest of the season but could be a real talent in a few years to come.


On the field

Now onto the pitch where things have picked up a little despite a very tough run of games. We beat fellow top half side Southampton 1-0 with Ryan Sessegnon scoring (And starting to play really well on the left) before drawing 0-0 withv Spurs. A 3-1 defeat to Chelsea was harsh as we had the better chances in the first 60 or so minutes but a 2-1 win over Man City with Chicco scoring a brace got us a surprise victory. Annoyingly we blew a 2 goal lead over Bournemouth but a 2-2 draw meant we got another point which leaves us like this


I don't see us getting into the top 6 but we are in a right fight with Southampton and Brighton for that 7th spot which could bring European football with it depending on the FA Cup. Of course we could still Europe through that competition as we beat Huddersfield (2-1) in the 3rd round whilst we entertain QPR in a 4th Round qualifier having salvaged a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road. I think Watford await in the 5th round if my memory serves me correct.

Can we get more consistent? I hope so and we have now played 3 of the top 6 twice meaning we should have predominently the teams in the lower half in our remaining 13 games we could finish strong and beat our 9th place finish last year especially if Eric Chicco remains in the goals

Onwards we go!
Some good business conducted. Pierie is certainly an improvement on Lukaku, who you've managed to sell for a tidy profit. The highlight, of course, is the arrival of Jordan Pickford. The fee is minimal and for a player of his quality, that is an excellent deal.

The results are much-improved and a victory against Bournemouth would have really served you well. It's a shame you weren't able to hold on. The race is certainly on for seventh and you just need to keep the momentum going, as I'm sure Southampton and Brighton will slip up. Hopefully you'll be able to defeat QPR in the replay to continue your FA Cup run, too.

Leeds United - February & March 2021

On the field

Believe it or not but we are on an unbeaten run right now as we went the whole of February and March without losing, which means two things

1. We are in an FA Cup Semi Final
2. We could just finish in that 7th spot

So starting with the FA Cup we sneaked past QPR 1-0 with Raul de Tomas getting the only goal. It needed extra time to take down a struggling Watford side but Ryan Sessegnon scored a hat-trick to eventually win us the game 3-1. It was more drama in the 6th round as we beat Southampton on penalties having drawn 3-3 after extra time. The game had it all as we were 2-0 up before getting pegged back by the end of the 90 minutes. We then went 3-2 down before Raul de Tomas saved the day again by scoring a 114th minute penalty.

Standing in our way of the final is Crystal Palace. A trophy and Europe are on the cards. Talking of Europe our league form has picked up and although we are in 8th we seem to be getting more points than what we are losing and i am pretty confident we can leapfrog Newcastle to take 7th giving us two hopes of European football


Ryan Sessegnon is starting to become a superstar in this side at the moment and alongside Murgia we have two very good players who have made a massive difference this season and have started to kick us onto a new level. To be honest if we can sort out the defence we are not a million miles away from having a Top6 side especially with a bit of luck on our side.

Youth Intake

Another Youth Intake and another disappointment as we failed to generate any players that are likely to make a difference in the upcoming seasons So i will have to go and scout some new talent
You certainly haven't done things the easy way when it comes to progressing in the FA Cup, but as long as you get the job done eventually, it's enough! A shame you weren't able to turn a couple of those draws into wins when it comes to the league, but the form looks to be steady and that could be enough to merit seventh position. Glad to hear that Sessegnon and Murgia are performing.

One day you'll find someone special in your intake!
An FA Cup win would be massive and would secure you with European football!

Leeds United - April & May 2021 - The hunt for European Football

On the field

This update starts and ends at Wembley as our FA Cup semi final against Crystal Palace went the right way as Jack Grealish curled in a winner from outside of the box to send us into the Final against Chelsea. More on that later as i first concentrate on the league run in.

Our first league games were against fellow European hopefuls Leicester and Brighton and in both games we had to battle to draws with Raul de Tomas bagging two late goals in the latter game to save a point in an exciting 3-3 draw. We then had a massive scare against bottom of the league Burnley where it took another late goal from Raul de Tomas to steal a 4-3 victory and put us in the driving seat for 7th.

How in the next game against Arsenal we kept a clean sheet after conceding 6 in the prior two i will never know but when Jack Clarked scored an unlikely 91st minute winner we were suddenly almost guaranteed a 7th place finish as long as we didnt screw up in the final two games. Man Utd and in particular Marcus Rashford spanked us as he scored 5 goals in a 5-0 beating that saw me in tears as our team just fell apart. It made the 1-0 win against Arsenal even the more impressive as we seriously struggled to defend from a basic long ball.

It meant we needed a point in the final game to get 7th and Aston Villa were the team in the way. Luckily we bounced back with a nice 2-0 win sealing our 7th place finish and effectively European football as Chelsea our FA Cup final opponents were already in Europe thanks to their League finish.


So we came to the FA Cup final against Chelsea. Win and we were in the Europa League, Lose and we were in the Europa League but i wanted to go into Europe as a winner. Ryan Sessegnon almost made sure of that as he converted a Jack Clarke cross to score his 14th goal of the season and put us 1-0 up. With just 6 minutes to go we looked like we could hold on to seal an FA Cup trophy but the game turned on its head as we conceded 2 late goals to prevent an unlikely FA Cup victory as we lost 2-1. Gutted! However....


A great achievement and one that takes us 1 step closer to the end goal. How far we can go? Well that will be the interesting dilemma as we have to cope with the Thursday-Sunday routine that can often prevent the progress we desire. The Basis of the team is there with Jack Clarke picking up the player of the year and the general attacking midfield areas impressing this season.


And that leads us to our Summer plans.

Summer plans


So not a lot more wage budget but the transfer budget is improving year on year but to be honest after the last two years shopping sprees we will probably have a much quieter summer window as we look to build consistency into this side. Here is my breakdown of what we will likely do

Goalkeepers
Jordan Pickford's arrival in January will likely mean that 34 year old Kiki Casilla will be moved on hopefully bringing us a nice budget boost. England U21 goalkeeper Sherwin Greaves will return as the No.2 for this season whilst we will probably sell Bailey Peacock-Farrell as well with young 17 year old Karl Lee becoming the 3rd choice keeper.

Defenders
Now even though the defence needs work i have chopped and changed this department so much over the last two years it can probably do with some stability. Lewis Dunk is likely to be moved on having not impressed since his £20m move from Brighton with young Italian Anglieri getting promoted to the first team having excelled with the U23's this season. I could be tempted to sell Janssen and Clyne with both now hitting their 30's but i won't force through moves unless a decent option appears. WIth West Ham's relegation Issa Diop could be an option though.

Midfielders
This will be the year we either buy Joe Willock or get a permanent midfielder to fill his spot and i will be looking to use most of the transfer budget to do so. Outside of that move, i might let Olimpiu Morutan go or allow Hugo Kroken to go out on loan but other then that it will be a pretty quiet window.

Strikers

We struggled here but we had the talent. Chicco showed he could do it in patches and Raul de Tomas saved us towards the end of the season. Joveljic is a talent but needs to improve. Unless a World Class striker becomes available i am going to keep faith with my 3 options whilst looking to move on Vincent Janssen

With all said and done i think it will be 2 players in at most with probably more leaving to allow some talented U23 players take their spot.
Great Stuff! European Qualification secured, now the real test begins! Unlucky to lose that FA Cup final so late, two late goals is gutting indeed. But to get that far shows how far you have gone!
Great work mate! The FA Cup defeat is a shame, but don't let that cast a shadow over such an excellent season. There is plenty of quality within this side and I can't blame you for largely keeping faith in what you already have ahead of next season. Hopefully next season's additional fixture demands won't cause too many issues.
1

A third season down and some movement on the redemption front!

Atletico Madrid (1974, 2014,2016)
A season of almosts for the Atletico as they were runners up in the league, the copa del ray and beaten Semi finalists in the Champions League by another team on this list. Still hunting for redemption

Reims (1956, 1959)
Better work this time around as it was a comfortable 11th place finish for the French Side.

Valencia (2000, 2001)
A 7th placed finish means it is the Europa League again for Valencia whilst it was a respectable Quarter final appearance in the Champions League.

Fiorentina (1957)
It seems like Fiorentina are destined to be a mid table side as they finished 12th in Serie A. A tempting prospect once the Leeds project is complete.

Eintracht Frankfurt (1960)
A real yo-yo team in game as they finish just in 10th missing out on Europe again.

Partizan Belgrade (1966)
After winning the title last season it was back to being runners up to rivals Red Star Belgrade

Panathinaikos (1971)
Another poor year finishing in 5th. Their days as champions of Greece seem a distant memory.

Leeds United (1975)
Back in Europe for the first time since the 02/03 season it has been a long climb for us.

Saint Etienne (1976)
A drop in form from the last two years as it is 17th for the French side. Never in danger of relegation but closer to Ligue 2 than the Champions League.

Borussia Gladbach (1977)
3rd for the second season on the trot backed up by a final appearance in the German Cup. No real dent in Europe though

Club Brugge (1978)
2nd in the Jupiler league means Champions League football via the qualifiers.

Malmo FF (1979)
2020 saw Malmo in 4th meaning they are not the dominating force that i had expected. In 6th mid way through the 2021 season.

Roma (1984)
One better than last season with a 3rd place finish but just the knockout round for them in the Champions League

Sampdoria (1992)
I said they had a massive task last time around and they have had a great season finishing in 4th and getting Champions League football again.

Bayer Leverkusen (2002)
Surprise champions of Germany under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez. Can they go on and become the Champions of Europe?

Monaco (2004)
No trophies this time as PSG swept the board but they did pick up 91 points in the League and alongside Lyon and PSG these three have France sewn up

Arsenal (2006) - Won in 2021 (AI)
Champions of England and also Champions of Europe as the AI provides my boyhood club Arsenal redemption at the 2nd time of asking. It now means Arsenal are now redeemed and inelegible for this save.

Tottenham (2019*)
Now a Europa League side the Scum finished in 6th place and lost the Europa League final for the 2nd straight year. Must be hurting after seeing Arsenal dominate.

Lyon (2020)
An impressive 3rd place in the French League especially when you consider they picked up 91 points in the League but they were unable to match their impressive run to the final in the Champions League with an early exit in the knockout rounds.

So the first side has now been redeemed meaning the AI is doing a better job than I. However, progress is being made and i feel like we have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season if we get a bit of luck and sort out a few problems. However, well done to Arsenal who leave this club


Onto season 4.
One team taken off the long list of clubs!
Just stormed through this whole story now. Awesome read!
Strong performance from Leeds over the whole season. Good to see you earn European qualification. Forget the stigma about Europa League football, it is a major tournament.

You've quite a decent budget to work with this summer and with your intention being to spend it on a few players rather than make wholesale changes, perhaps a look at unsettled players in the relegated sides (all three of whom are sure to have some very talented players) could yield some notable success in the transfer market.

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