On FM Scout you can chat about Football Manager in real time since 2011. Here are 10 reasons to join!

Leeds United: Emulating El Loco

Started on 17 December 2019 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 31 January 2020 by Aaron
A very good start to this, excited to see where you take it! Good luck!
A brilliant start to this story, Josh. The presentation has been superb and you've put a lot of work into the writing. I look forward to how it develops!
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
3 yearsEdited
Thank you all for your kind comments over the past couple of weeks. My Christmas break, as you can probably tell, did go on for a little longer than I thought it would. Nonetheless, I'm back at it, ready to get this story to really take off in the New Year.

So far on the thread, I've banged on about the ground, the history of the club, the players currently at the club as well as various off-the-pitch matters such as vision, tactics and so forth. On today's update, I'll be going into how the way I want to play will fit in with the players we have at the club, as well as pinpointing where we need players and where some players will need to leave. Without any further ado, let's jump straight into it:


The screenshots above depict what I believe to be my strongest XI and the way we will play by default. I've already discussed each player at length so I won't delve too much further into what each player offers. I will however touch on the main highlights of this setup from a personnel standpoint.

Firstly, Casilla as the sweeper keeper is a must. His eccentricity will come in handy in situations where the defence has been left exposed. We've seen on a few occasions in real life how much he contributes to this team when he comes rushing out of his box, a goal-saving challenge on the edge of the D against Preston on Boxing Day when Cooper , Phillips and Ayling were in no-man's-land was a great example of this. He's also an adept ball player, which in a system where we play out of dangerous situations, is an absolute must.

Next, the two centre backs. as discussed previously, everyone in the team needs to be confident and assured on the ball, and few centre backs in this league fit the bill like Cooper and White. It's no secret that we need depth in that position should either of them get injured/suspended, but there's no other pairing I'd rather have in this league both set as BPDs.

Key to the team's success last season was Kalvin Phillips and the role he played sitting in front of the back four. The Leeds-born midfielder is key protection for the defence, stifling opposing attacks from flank to flank and getting the team up the pitch as soon as possession is won back. I felt he would fit the system as a half back as the description is that of a player that "looks to offer an outlet for quickly recycling possession and to offer protection against the counter-attack". This is something Phillips does in his sleep.

Adam Forshaw is another key cog of this system, giving the team control in the midfield. He plays an important role in keeping the opposition hemmed in their own half by recycling possession and putting in challenges that prevent counter attacks.

The attacking mezzala role fits Mateusz Klich like a glove. The Pole will spend much of the game making probing passes as well as diagonal runs in behind the defence to disrupt the opponent's shape. There's actually a drill at Leeds United in real life known as 'The Klich', whereby a midfielder, off the ball, will make a run for the byline. A defender will inevitably go after him, giving the striker space to move into ready for Klich's cut-back.

In the wide positions, I have a real selection headache. Although Harrison will mostly be a guaranteed starter on the left, it leaves me with a toss up between Helder Costa and Pablo Hernandez on the right. I'll initially go with Pablo as a wide advanced playmaker, purely because he has proven himself in this side so far. The position is his to lose, and Costa will no doubt be snapping at his heels to take on a more traditional winger role. Having Pablo as an advanced playmaker plays to the magician's strengths- rather than take on his full back and drill a cross in, Pablo will be expected to drop into pockets of space out wide when off the ball and play intricate through balls.

Finally, spearheading the attack, I want Bamford to be our shithouse. Bullying centre backs all game and holding up the ball will be his main calling card although I will be expecting goals from him as well.

I've touched on this being the system we will play by default. What I mean by this is that unless we hold a lead that is coming under threat or we are put on the back foot from the off, this will be how we play. Relentless pressing and fast intricate breakaways will be the way we primarily look to play and every player will have a role to play in this regard.

Plan B is a more controlled plan A, as the screenshots above show. The aim is to slow play down and take a more considered approach to our game on the ball. Off the ball, the aim is to still press, but not as high up the pitch. Bringing the attacking line closer to the defensive line will make us more compact and harder to work the ball past. It is a pragmatic approach but one that won't be as dangerous to the opposition. The aim with this game plan is game management, and is to only be used when defending a lead or when it's becoming apparent plan A is just not going to be possible, perhaps due to strength of opposition.


As Ben White and Liam Cooper are our only senior natural centre backs, we need cover. Berardi and Ayling can play centre back, but I would like at least one more natural body in there. A transfer budget of £908k gives me very little wiggle room, so my most realistic chance of getting a decent extra centre half would be by dipping into the loan market. In the youth squads, Pascal Struijk represents a potential cover option but again, I still need at least one more senior option.

The game tells me I need another left back, but I think otherwise. Whilst Barry Douglas is my only senior natural left back, Leif Davis is a fantastic young player who I believe we can bring up to speed very quickly. Alioski, though mad as a box of frogs, can also do a very capable job at left back, so I'm happy in this regard.

The only other position I can realistically see us needing more players in is up front. Bamford is a great player and Eddie Nketiah is a clinical finisher but the two are very different strikers. Bamford, despite his capabilities in front of goal, is also a work horse, giving everything to hold the ball up in the attacking third and adding a lot physically in that area. Nketiah is a goal-poacher, who looks to get in behind the defence to get a run in on goal. He has bags of pace, but lacks the physical prerequisites for the role Bamford plays. I'll try to get Nketiah to work where possible, but if it's not working out come January, I may have to look for a better fit. Ryan Edmondson of the under 23s could potentially be a better fit, but if the loan market can offer more quality in this regard, I'll opt for that instead.

I was also going to do a section for what we don't need, but Eunan O'Kane is the only player I can realistically envisage us not needing. I have a feeling it might be a long struggle to try to get rid of him given how long is left on his contract (he's here until 2021), but I'll give it a go.

That's all for this update. I won't go into the training as I could be here all year posting updates on every tiny intricate detail I'll look at from the start. I'll go and actually play the game so the next update will be at the end of pre-season

<-Back home
I would argue a case to use wing-backs to fully emulate Bielsa to get that 3-3-3-1 going but seems like you've got your own ideas with what is a fantastic Championship squad this year ;)
This is a really good in depth analysis of your system!! It looks like it will make Leeds a great team.
Really enjoying reading through this, hopefully you can get those extra players you need to make a great start to the season
Great update. It's clear what the plan is, so now it just needs to be executed. Simple, right?
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
3 yearsEdited
We've started off the 2019/20 season with a fairly routine pre-season. We've won all of our five friendlies and we've managed to bring in some cover at centre-back. It's not been anything spectacular, but until the season starts, I guess we're not looking for spectacular. The players have been put through their paces and shown glimpses of how they're going to fit into this high energy system, and now our fate lies in the hands of 46 league matches. Without any further ado, let's get into how it all went down.


Ayr United 0-2 Leeds United

Jack Harrison 21
Jamie Shackleton 52

Chris Gibb off 90+2

MK Dons 2-3 Leeds United

Patrick Bamford 28
Jack Clarke 37

Rhys Healey 60
Ryan Woods missed penalty 75
Mateusz Klich 77
Ryan Harley 90+2

Glenavon 0-2 Leeds United

Mateusz Klich missed penalty 8
Jack Harrison 15

Steven Hutchinson off 58

Eddie Nketiah 74

Basford United 0-4 Leeds United

Eddie Nketiah 7
Jack Harrison 22
Gaetano Berardi 45+1
Jack Clarke 83

Leeds United 2-0 SD Huesca

Liam Cooper 4
Ben White 9


It's been a fairly quiet window, but we got what we wanted, and that's all that matters. I've managed to draft in cover at centre-back, dipping into the loan market to sign Nicholas Opoku from Udinese. Opoku is 21 years old and started his career at Berekum Chelsea in his native Ghana. He spent three years there before signing for Club Africain in Morocco for the 2017/18. He was signed by Udinese at the start of last season for £1.3m and made 12 appearances in Serie A.

He's described as a strong player who is good in the air, and a player that has the potential to play in the Premier League. I was hoping to add an option to buy for £4m should we win promotion, but the game would not allow it as we don't have the funds now (as if we wouldn't if we were bringing in £90m in TV deals). This is why it took so long to complete the signing and why he missed the whole of pre-season. He may need some time playing for the under 23s to get up to speed, although I'm sure our Carabao Cup tie away at Mansfield will be a chance for him to get first team action. Definitely someone I'd be keen to bring in permanently if all goes well.

Victor Orta, my Director of Football, has been doing a deal him self and has brought me an addition to the right-back position, signing Mehdi Zeffane on a free transfer. Zeffane has spent the last four years at Stade Rennais, winning the French Cup at the end of last season. Zeffane is described as an athletic player with a lot of pace, he should be a handy back up to have if Luke Ayling is ever injured. What it also allows me to do is freely move Berardi anywhere across the back where required and it could be argued my defence now has sufficient depth to get through the season.

Adam Underwood, my Head of Youth Development, has brought in former Reading youth goalkeeper George Legg on a free, although looking at his report, I'm not getting overly excited for this one.

Our only outgoings so far have been on loan, although one of them was Eunan O'Kane, who I thought would be hard to get rid of. He's gone to Ipswich for the season with a £425 option to buy. Yes, I really was that desperate to get him off the books. They're contributing 40% of his wages as well so I can't have too many compaints.

Well, that wraps up this update, the next one will be full of competitive football. I know you can barely contain your excitement, so I'll crack on with August and should have another update for you soon

<-Back home
A solid pre-season albeit against opposition you would expect to be beating. The main objectives are to enable the players to gain a basic familiarity with the system you plan on using, but also for the management to gain an understanding of how they could plan out their squad for the opening few games. Fitness is key and hopefully the players are match-sharp ahead of the new season.
Solid pre season so far. Question - how are you able to create those grey boxes that when you click them they open up? could be helpful for my story near the end of the season.
2020-01-05 12:56#264806 LittleLaney11 : Solid pre season so far. Question - how are you able to create those grey boxes that when you click them they open up? could be helpful for my story near the end of the season.

[spoiler=Text][/spoiler] hope this helps. It probably explains it better here
FINALLY! Someone has managed to get O'Kane off the books! Last I heard he was staying at ER until 2020/21 and I'm not sure I can even cope with that even in this story! A great preseason anyway, followed by a decent signing in Opoku.
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
3 yearsEdited
We're back, August is done. It's been a slow start for us, with just the one win from our opening six league outings.. We have been hit by injury from the off however, with Ayling missing throughout, Pablo Hernandez and Barry Douglas not fit until the final game and Jack Harrison struggling for fitness as well. There was also a disappointing cup exit at the hands of Rotherham. Without any further ado, let's jump into it.


Bristol City 0-0 Leeds United

Leeds United 1-0 Nottingham Forest

Jack Harrison 7

Mansfield Town 0-3 Leeds United Carabao Cup First Round

Mehdi Zeffane 20
Jack Harrison 29
Nicholas Opoku 55

Wigan Athletic 2-1 Leeds United

Liam Cooper 20
Kieffer Moore 23
Jamal Lowe 40

Leeds United 2-3 Brentford

Ollie Watkins 43
Ollie Watkins 45+3
Patrick Bamford 46
Mateusz Bogusz 53

Christian Tue 76

Stoke City 0-0 Leeds United

Leeds United 0-0 Rotherham United (4-5 on pens)Carabao Cup Second Round

Leeds United 0-1 Swansea City

Andre Ayew 85

Games came thick and fast this month and we seemed to have no answer for it. It'll help to have some of our key players such as Douglas, Hernandez and Harrison back, particularly as I felt Harrison was contributing a lot before he got sidelined. I'm still making minor tweaks to the system to get my best use out of it and hopefully the hard work over the two weeks will show when we get back to it at Oakwell. Being out of the cup doesn't come without its blessings and hopefully we can now take things at a steadier pace moving forward.

I was never going to be doing an open-top bus tour if we got off to a flyer and found ourselves top, just like we're not crying 'crisis' with 40 games still to go. It's still all to play for.


Although he's yet to score, Helder Costa has been our most consistent performer so far this month, weighing in with four assists and twelve key passes in eight appearances. He's a constant threat to the opposition and with cleaner finishing from his team mates, Helder's assist:key pass ratio could well be stronger. Not all has been dark on the pitch, so it would seem.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really disappointed with how we've started the campaign. We're currently 6 points adrift of 6th and 8 points adrift of the top two. But with that being said, we're only six games in and this is the Championship. The table can change drastically in the space of a few weeks, particularly in the early stages of the season. As long as we can arrest this blip, we'll be fine.

As an aside, any feedback on the story would be appreciated, as I would like to look at new ways of writing the updates so any suggestions are welcome. I'm aware there's the odd typo in here but I've been writing this for nearly three hours and I'm knackered. Might give it a go tomorrow.

<-Back home
A tough start to the season for your Leeds side, sitting 18th is certainly not where you'd be expecting to be. However, like you said, it's just six games in and you have more than enough time to recover. Orta's signing of Zeffane was clearly needed with Ayling already being injured. Hopefully next month, with some returning players from injury, the results can improve.
The season started decently with four points from six and a cup win, but it has slowly fell apart. One positive to take is that you're not being blown apart and your losses have only been by the one goal. There's certainly just minor tweaks needed to the system in order to turn things into a success. Besides, as you say, the season has only just begun. Plenty of time yet.

You are reading "Leeds United: Emulating El Loco".

FMS Chat

hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.