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Leeds United: Emulating El Loco

Started on 17 December 2019 by joshleedsfan / First Post
Latest Reply on 31 January 2020 by Aaron / Last Post
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TheLFCFan- cheers mate, we're just getting started though. Watch this space...

SEASON REVIEW 2019/20






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Congratulations! Leeds are finally "back where they belong" as many would argue. The hard-work to remain in the top-flight begins now...
ScottT- cheers mate. Yeah we're back where we belong and that's just the start of it...

SUMMER 2020


For a team that wanted to consolidate a place in the Premier League, the ground work started way back in March, when scout reports were sifted through to see who I wanted to find more about. Soon as we knew what league we'd be playing in- there was a contingency plan for targets for if we managed to fuck it up again- we went to go after these players. We even got one confirmed before the season had ended, but to say who at this point, would be telling. Here I'll be going through the transfers, friendlies and other major developments from the Monday after the Barnsley game, right the way through to the evening before our Premier League return.

TRANSFERS


Let's start with what the people want to see. We're going to delve into the club's business conducted over the summer as I take you through who came and who left. We'll save the best (players in) until last, meaning we'll start with the departures:

PLAYERS OUT













I've only gone into detail on those that made more than one senior appearance last season either for us, or on loan elsewhere. Otherwise, I wouldn't really have much to talk about in any real depth. The rest of our outward transfer business was as follows:

Aaron Pilkington to Portsmouth for £59,000
Bryce Hosannah to Bradford Park Avenue for free
Luke Lyons to Ross County for free
Nohan Kenneh to Forest Green on loan
Rafa Mujica to Portsmouth on loan
Stuart McKinstry to Blackpool on loan
Jordan Stevens to Southend on loan
Ouasim Bouy to Tranmere on loan
Liam McCarron to Newport on loan
Kun Temenuzhkov to Rochdale on loan
Niko Datkovic to Legia Warsaw on loan
Will Huffer to Aston Villa on loan
Ryan Edmondson to West Brom on loan
Eunan O'Kane released
Conor Shaughnessy released

ARRIVALS













NEW SHIRTS


As the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed in the April & May screenshots, I'm doing shirts as I go along in this save (full kit is too far). Just a little side thing to keep it fresh. Let's have a look at this season's shirts...

HOME SHIRT



Back to traditional colours on the home shirt this season. As memorable a season as we had in the 'white and platinum' ensemble, we're back to seeing blue and yellow with the original shield crest. In-keeping with tradition, it's plain and clean with no gimmicks. There's a slight nod to the shirts of the 1989/90 promotion season and 1991/92 Championship-winning season, with alternating blue and yellow trims on the sleeves. 32Red and Kappa remain on the shirt.

AWAY SHIRT



We're back to traditional colours away from home as well this season, although not fully to the extent of the home kit. Whilst blue has been a frequent colour of a Leeds United away kit, the Leeds kit purists will argue that yellow is our traditional away colour. Nonetheless, it's a move away from the bizarre- despite now favourably memorable- platinum and pink effort last season. On a closer inspection, the shirt does carry a checked design, with close but oh-so-different shades of blue put together.

THIRD SHIRT



This is where we come a little closer to tradition. It's a design that predates what even many of the older statesmen/women of the fanbase will remember. Because whilst Leeds have played in yellow many times down the years, it's rarely ever been put against blue sleeves. For that, you'll most likely be stretching back to the 1950s, when replica kits were still a distant idea yet to be thought of. This yellow top/blue sleeves design was made famous by John Charles, the legendary Leeds and Juventus defender-turned-forward. This was at a time where the club only wore blue and yellow, before Don Revie changed it to look like Real Madrid. And now white takes pride-of-place on the ends of the sleeves in this timeless design.
Note: it broke last night in real life that we've signed a deal with Adidas for next season. I'm not going back to change the kits now, I'll do it next season

MATCHES


Leeds United 0-0 Sunderland


We were back in action for pre-season, back on the grass for the first time since narrowly missing out on the title against Charlton back in May. In the midst of a training camp in the far exotic reaches of Sheffield, our first friendly was to be played at Darlington Arena (the one that bankrupted the local club). Don't ask me why or how, I have no idea. We were up against Sunderland, who are still stuck in League One after contriving to finish 12th last season. You'd think that failing to go up for a third time would be the final nail in the coffin, as far as the club's efforts to return to the Premier League are concerned.
We completely dominated the first half, the only thing we failed to do right was put the ball in the net. The second half was much the same. The toruble for us was that Sunderland spent 90 minutes camped on the edge of their own box, making them almost impenetrable. We won't come up against that in the Premier League.

Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Leeds United

Jack Harrison 33
De'marlio Brown-Sterling 85


After a disappointing result against Sunderland, we were back to playing teams at a ground one of the two actually play at. We faced a trip to the University of Bolton Stadium to play a Bolton Wanderers side who were unable to achieve the impossible last season and finished 23rd, slipping into the fourth tier for only the second time in the club's 146-year history.
We took the lead after half an hour. After some patient build-up play in their half, Mateusz Klich played a ball out to Helder Costa. Costa floated in a cross which found Jack Harrison at the far post, who took a touch before firing home to put us in front.

We had the ball in the net for a second time after the interval. Mehdi Zeffane had a shot spilled by Ben Alnwick, with Adam Armstrong burying the rebound before seeing the offside flag.

The next goal was found by the hosts with five minutes remaining. Jay Fitzmartin found a gap in our defence and threaded a through ball to De'marlio Brown-Sterling. Brown-Sterling found himself one-on-one, making no mistake with the golden opportunity presented to him.

It was a game similar to us at our worst last season. Poor defending and poor finishing cost us the win in the end.

Charlton Athletic 0-0 Leeds United


After two frustrating draws, we were at The Valley to face Charlton, who we had relegated to League One just two months prior.
Throughout the game, it became obvious that Charlton were trying to do what Bolton and Sunderland had done by parking the bus on the edge of their box. They did break occasionally, whenever Laurens Symons caught our defence not paying attention. But it was quite clear that all the weaker opponents I had picked were going to do this and it was not an accurate representation of what we'll come up against in the Premier League. Next time, I'll know to play against teams that won't be afraid to open up and actually play football.

MK Dons 3-2 Leeds United

Danny Ward 7
Patrick Bamford 64
Jack Harrison 83
Ibrahima Cisse 87
Chris Martin 90


It had been a frustrating pre-season so far, playing three teams who were no higher than League One and drawing against all of them. This time, we returned to a ground we played at last summer, to play MK Dons who had been automatically promoted to the Championship with a 2nd-placed finish.
We got off to a horror start. After just five minutes, MK Dons had taken the lead. It was Jordan Houghton who broke down the right, sending a cross over to Danny Ward at the far post, who headed them into the lead.

It was a truly dreadful first half. MK Dons broke an unforgiveable number of times, with our defence at sixes and sevens throughout.

We got ourselves level midway through the second half. Luke Ayling sent a through ball to Patrick Bamford, who took a touch before slotting it into the bottom corner.. He got himself one-on-one with Stuart Moore before firing past the MK Dons keeper.

With just over five minutes to go, it looked as though the second half XI had bailed out the first half XI. It was Ayling once again with the assist, breaking down the right hand side before crossing to Harrison on the far post, who lashed a volley into the roof of the net.

But if anyone knew how to Leeds it up, it was...well...Leeds. Rhys Healey broke down the right and with our defence showing all the organisation of a Jenga tower assembled by Stevie Wonder, he cut it back to Ibrahima Cisse, who fired home on his first touch.

They found a winner a couple of minutes later, when Kalvin Phillips lost the ball near his own box out on the left. The ball broke to Joe Mason, who played a through ball to Chris Martin. The ex-Derby striker finished with ease.

The final whistle signalled the end of our worst performance under my watch. At times, the defending was painful. The team in general- perhaps with the exception of Ayling, Harrison and Bamford- were just so passive it was like watching a testimonial game. It was utterly shocking and I made my feelings well known to the players. They were not training well enough and I was sick to the back fucking teeth of watching them piss around on the pitch.

Leeds United 2-0 SD Huesca

Adam Armstrong 17
Patrick Bamford 67


After the absolute debacle at Stadium:MK, I could take comfort in the fact that I was unlikely to ever see worse. We were up against a side known for being open and expressive with their football, it was just a question of being able to overpower them. For this one, I decided to do a little experiment. I figured that there's no way Mathieu Cafaro ran the show for Stade Rennais from a deep role, so I switched him over with Jamie Shackleton to play the more advanced mezzala role.
We started strongly and after fifteen minutes, we were one up. It was a brilliant through ball from Luke Ayling jusrt behind the halfway line, which put Adam Armstrong through on goal. Armstrong made no mistake one-on-one.

Midway through the second half, we doubled our advantage. Barry Douglas played a similar through ball to the one Ayling played for the first goal, putting Patrick Bamford in on goal, who was never going to miss that chance.

It was an utterly dominant performance and a million miles better than what I'd seen against MK Dons. Ayling stood out once more as an influential player in this game and could potentially hold the key for our transitional play this season. A much needed improvement, for sure.

IN OTHER NEWS


In the Premier League, there has just been the one managerial re-shuffle. Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has left Molineux to take up a vacant role at Valencia, His replacement is a rather left-field appointment, with the club hiring Ilias Kalopitas, who managed in the Greek lower leagues between 2011 and 2019. He spent last season managing AEK's under 19s when he got the call to manage Wolves. There have been no managerial movements in the Championship.
Clubs in the Premier League have once again made waves with their transfer activity. I'll attach screenshots as well, but to summarise, Harry Kane has become the Premier League's first 9-figure transfer, signing for Liverpool for £105m; Paul Pogba has left the country to sign for PSG for £92m; Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Raphael Varane have made moves to Manchester, signing for United for £84m and City for £80m respectively; Memphis Depay has returned to these shores from Lyon, in a £55m switch to Chelsea whilst John Stones has gone abroad to Real Madrid for £52m.




That concludes this marathon update. I'll be back shortly with August's update. Enjoy!

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A very good window, I would argue. I'm relatively impressed with the calibre of players you have acquired. The fees paid are largely minimal when you consider the quality of the player. Ollie Watkins is one particular player I'm excited to see play in the top-flight, but Haps and Cafaro both appear to be intriguing signings also which caught my eye. Holding is an excellent addition on loan! Outgoings make sense. The youngsters need more time to develop and I feel the step up would be too demanding at this time. The likes of Davies and Gotts should really benefit from another year in the second-tier. As for the kits, I'm a fan - very neat. Just a shame that pre-season has been largely unsuccessful.
Finally back to those beautiful traditional white, blue and yellow colours <3 Such a relief to see the back of De Bock and Grot too :))
ScottT- astute analysis of the transfer window once more. I would rather have brought in a proven Premier League striker, but you can't have it all

Jack- as the song goes, there's nothing you can do against the yellow, white and blue. Yeah, De Bock and Grot would struggle to get in a side trying to stay the Championship, never mind the Premier League

AUGUST 2020


After a difficult pre-season on the pitch, where I wasn't fully convinced we saw the real side to this team, it was time. After 16 long years in exile, we were back. In such a long time, the landscape of the top flight had changed drastically and now we had to adapt. From the off, we struggled with injuries, with Jordi Vanlerberghe and Mehdi Zeffane amongst the notable absentees. Without any further ado, let's get into it...

MATCHES


Arsenal 2-0 Leeds United

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 52
Helder Costa off 62
Alexandre Lacazette 78


We returned to the Premier League with an away game in the same city we bowed out in, London. Our last Premier League fixture was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in May 2004, a 2-0 loss having been relegated a couple of weeks before. It's August 2020 and we were back to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Our last league clash against Arsenal summed up the season for either side, as a relegation-bound Leeds side were slapped 5-0 by the Invincibles at Highbury. Anyway, enough of the history lesson, let's take a look how this one panned out.

We got through the first half unscathed at 0-0. We came under relentless pressure from the Gunners as you'd expect and despite breaking a couple times, we were unable to get a single shot away. Our defence stood strong in the half though and we did actually have more of the ball, but Arsenal were a lot more penetrative than we were. Kiko Casilla pulled out some great saves in the first 45.

Arsenal did break through earrly in the second half. Kristoffer Ajer sent a through ball to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who Luke Ayling did keep up with. Ayling continued forcing Aubameyang wide of goal towards and eventually seemingly impossible angle that most strikers would miss from. Aubameyang isn't most strikers though, he's one of the best in the business and he showed it by somehow squeezing it past Ayling and Casilla, through the posts and into the back of the net. A genuinely world class finish you could do nothing about except applaud.

We made things a little harder for ourselves shortly after the hour. With Helder Costa on a booking and Ollie Watkins primed and ready to replace him, it was quickly seen to that Watkins would sit back down. Costa clumsily tripped Aubameyang right in front of the dugouts and was shown a second yellow, signalling the end of his game.

The hosts killed the game off with just over ten minutes remaining and after defending so well, this was probably the one moment our defending let us down. It was Ajer again with the assist, playing in Alexandre Lacazette who was supposed to be marked by Liam Cooper. Cooper wasn't switched on and Lacazette got in behind, making no mistake one-on-one with Casilla.

Shortly before the end, it threatened to get ugly for us, after so much good work for the majority of the game. VAR awarded Arsenal a penalty after a push from Ayling on Everton was initially missed by the ref. Victor Tsygankov stepped up and fired it towards the bottom to Casilla's right, only for Casilla to pull off an outstanding save.

At the end of the day, we were on a hiding to nothing, particularly after Costa's red card. Our attempts to play attacking football were completely drowned out by Arsenal's strength in midfield. It was a good effort defensively, but Arsenal turned up and took a couple of chances and three points to go with it.

Leeds United 2-2 AFC Bournemouth

Steve Cook 46
Patrick Bamford 53
Arnaut Danjuma 75
Patrick Bamford 90+4


Elland Road's first Premier League fixture for 16 years came against a team whose recent history said a lot more about how long we'd been away than any other. Since 2004, Bournemouth have played with us in League One before being relegated, nearly went down to the Conference after going into administration, steadied the ship, returned to League One, gone up to the Championship meeting us again a few times before going up to an establishing themselves in the Premier League. Quite the journey. Anyhoo, we came off the back of a 2-0 beating at Arsenal, relieved we wouldn't be facing that level every week.

We were set up for a struggle pretty early on, with Luke Ayling being brought off as a precaution five minutes in, struggling with his hamstring. Mehdi Zeffane was also out injured, so we improvised into a 3-5-2. We were the better side in the first half, with only some pretty questionable finishing holding us back.

Early in the second half, we were punished for wasting chances. Ryan Fraser sent over a long free kick, which Steve Cook inexplicably was allowed the time and space at the far post to unleash a ferocious volley into the roof of the net.

We got ourselves level after some good build-up play in Bournemouth's half. Jamie Shackleton sent a dinked ball over from the edge of the centre circle which Bamford ran onto. He had lost his marker and sprung the offside trap, firing a low volley first time into the bottom corner. I rarely say this about many of our goals, but that was a great finish.

With fifteen minutes to go, the visitors re-took the lead, taking advantage of some laughably bad defending. Asmir Begovic punted a long ball up the pitch, 6'2 Liam Cooper (jumping 14) managed to get outjumped by 5'10 Kemar Roofe (jumping 9), Rob Holding completely miscontrolled the loose ball in behind, before Arnaut Danjuma tucked it home. An infuriating goal to give away.

We looked to be coming away empty-handed once more, before Bamford popped up once again with a last--minute equaliser. Kalvin Phillips played a ball right to Mathieu Cafaro. Cafaro drove into the box before drilling a ball across the face of goal. Bamford initially somehow managed to hit the post, before scrambling ahead of the Bournemouth defenders and Begovic to poke it home.

It was a start to not lose a game, but it was frustrating that we didn't win. We had a hatful of chances and the two goals we conceded were quite avoidable. C'est la vie.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Leeds United
Karlan Grant 66
Barry Douglas 78
Isaac Mbenza 88


We'd got off to a difficult start, but now we came up against a team I felt we should fancy ourselves against.. Fellow promotees Huddersfield were the opposition in the Friday night kickoff and as far as I was concerned, they were there to be shot at. They would probably have the same view of us though, so we'd have to be at our best.

As with the first half against Bournemouth, we went into the interval well on top on possession and chances created. All we needed was something to fall for us in front of goal.

Midway through the second half, Huddersfield took the lead against the run of play. Guillermo Maripan- who we attempted to sign from Monaco in the summer- sent a ball over the top for Karlan Grant. He got away from Rob Holding far too easily for my liking, and dispatched the one-on-one.

It took a moment of sheer magic to level the scores. Barry Douglas lined up a free kick 25 yards from goal, slightly to the right of the box, before lashing a thunderous left-footed strike into the far top corner.

It was a game I thought we should've gone onto win, but as fate would have it, Huddersfield nicked it at the death. Aaron Mooy's through ball found Isaac Mbenza, who took on Luke Ayling before scoring at the near post. Kiko Casilla should've done much better and Huddersfield had now scored 2 goals with 2 shots on target.

This was a game where I was livid we didn't win. We dominated the game, created three times as many chances but came away empty-handed. Ironically, out of the 15 shots we put on target, only an absolute screamer from Douglas found the back of the net. Really poor from both an attacking and defensive perspective.

Leeds United 1-0 AFC Bournemouth
Carabao Cup Second Round

Ollie Watkins 89


After a frustrating start to the league campaign, it was time to turn our attentions to the Carabao Cup. We'd been drawn at home to Bournemouth, a fixture we had played a week and a half ago in the league. After drawing 2-2 last time out and allowing over 20 efforts on goal, I was looking for much more defensively.

It was a pretty evenly matched first half, albeit sloppy. Mistakes at both ends were presenting each team with decent chances, but we went in goalless.

In the second half, VAR had to step in, after the ref had somehow missed Adam Armstrong stray two yards offside before scoring.

We snatched a winner very late on. Luke Ayling and Jack Harrison played a nice passing move on the right-hand side, before Ayling sent over a cross from deep. Ollie Watkins peeled off at the back post, burying the chance with one touch.

Bournemouth were a lot more compact in this game and proved difficult to break down, hittting us on the counter every so often. We did well to stay on top though and ultimately deserved the win. I just wish we could've done this in the league outing.

Leeds United 1-1 Everton

Andre Horta 80
Adam Armstrong pen 89


With the last game before the international break came the visit of Everton to Elland Road. Like Arsenal- you'll notice I didn't mention this previously- we played Everton in the cup during our wilderness years. We beat them 2-1 in what was then the Capital One Cup at Elland Road, on a run that ended in a quarter final against Chelsea, in the 2012/13 season. I'd take a draw going into this one.

As with a few games so far, we were on top in the first half. It wasn't necessarily a case of we should've scored, more that we were limited to half chances, but we were all over them.

Everton picked up the pace in the second half and grew back into the game. It seemingly came to a head ten minutes from time, when they took the lead. Bernard played a through ball from midfield, which found Andre Horta. Kalvin Phillips was supposed to be picking him up and the rest of the defence were nowhere to be seen. Horta was onside and had a free run at goal, a chance he was never going to waste.

We got the point in the end however and it was the least we deserved. Ollie Watkins skinned Andre Gomes, who then proceded to bundle him over in the box. The ref initially missed it, but VAR didn't and a penalty was awarded. Adam Armstrong stepped up confidently, placing it in the bottom corner to Jordan Pickford's left.

It was frustrating that we had allowed Everton back into the game to a point where they took the lead. Had we managed the game a little better, we may have taken all three points. Some players will have to pick themselves up after the international break, particularly those at either end of the pitch. To our credit though, we responded well to their goal.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH



Not many players have got to grips with the step up in quality yet, but Luke Ayling seems to have fit the Premier League like a glove. He's performed his defensive duties admirably and contributed a lot going forward too, popping up with a great assist in the cup. If more players in this team step up like Ayling has, we stand a fighting chance in this league. Honourable mentions go to Ollie Watkins, who improved towards the end after an anonymous start and Patrick Bamford, whose brace against Bournemouth would've been enough for all three points on another day.

THE TABLE



There's not a lot you can say about the table after four games. As with last season, we've made an iffy start to the season, but there's absolutely no reason to believe it can't get better. The teams above us are well within touching distance. It will get easier than this, for instance, we won't play any of the 'big six' throughout December. There's plenty of points to be won and lost, so just like I wasn't going to plan European nights if we got off to a flyer, I'm also not about to accept relegation at this early stage. Plenty of football left to play and once we're all gelled and up-to-speed, we'll be fine.

IN OTHER NEWS


There have been no managerial changes at this early stage. In the Championship, beaten playoff contestants Swansea and QPR have both got off to fast starts, occupying 1st and 3rd respectively after six games. In the Carabao Cup, there have been a couple of shocks, with Bradford City and Forest Green in the hat for the Third Round, after beating Newcastle United and Bristol City respectively.



Closer to home, there has been a major development. With Elland Road now consistently selling out, I've put it to the board that perhaps it may be time to expand the ground. The board have agreed to this and announced plans for an upgrade, extending the capacity from 37,890 to 42,132. This will most likely be a renovation of th West Stand, which has been diplomatically described as 'tired' and 'run down'. I'd expect it to look something like the picture above when completed. Work is due to start at the end of this season.
It's difficult to comment on your start to the season at this stage, but you seem to have an ability to bite-back late on in order to obtain a result. That's the sort of character you need to survive in the top-flight. The nature of that Huddersfield game epitomises how cruel football can truly be, though. Tough stuff!

Glad to read of a much-needed upgrade to ER also.
1
Good news to see an extra 4 and a bit thousand seats added to the stadium. A large amount of movement in the window it seems especially in terms of outgoings. A tough start to the season but with those moves you will need some more time to gel and as you said, last season didn't get off to the best start and we all know how that one ended!
Tough start in the league, but it's very early days. Nice to see Ayling keeping his consistency no matter what division he's in and they finally removed the press boxes in the South Stand it seems for that expansion! ;)
After a difficult start to the Championship season, you did incredibly well to rally around and earn promotion. Major congratulations! The club's first season is proving difficult, as anticipated. If you can survive, the money will pour in and you can start building a true force of football.

Great work on the story. It is nice to see how much your writing has evolved.
That must be the worst way to lose out on a title, one goal between the two of you but at least you went up! Good luck this year in the Prem, I think you'll need it!

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