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The Same, But Different (Leeds United)

We go again...
Started on 27 April 2020 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 16 September 2020 by joshleedsfan
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INTRODUCTION


Welcome back to another Leeds story (shock). Anyone who's seen me on here before will know what's coming next when they see a new story. I had something decent going on with Leeds United: Emulating El Loco, before the reality of the Premier League hit, put a mental block on posting updates and the save eventually became corrupted.

It has occurred to me since then, that the challenge is not getting Leeds out of the Championship, that's a bare minimum expectation, like beating your reserves in the intra-squad friendly. The challenge is holding your own once you get them back in the top flight, challenging for Europe etc.

Which is why I've planned this save a little differently. The squad I have to hand should get us up, so no need for any holes to be plugged so to speak, as there aren't any at the moment, unless my Director of Football- Victor Orta- gets me someone who could be useful. Therefore, I've sent my scouts to look for players in positions I think we'll need strengthening if we go up, which should give me a full year to weigh up who would be the best fit for this team.

There'll also be subtle differences as to how I approach this from a tactical standpoint. Whilst the principle of what we do on the pitch will remain the same as under Marcelo Bielsa (high pressing, dominating possession), I won't religiously attempt to replicate every tiny detail. They say variety is the spice of life, and mixing up Bielsaball with the tactical principles with a more traditional British style (get it to the big bruiser up front) has helped in the past. With this tactical cocktail, I spent 13 happy years at Leeds on FM19, winning the league twice, the Champions League twice, the FA Cup four times, the Europa League, Carabao Cup and a host of 'supercups'. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to documenting it on here, although there is an early version of the tactic I used in the FM19 Tactics forum.

Anyway, enough going on about what went before and what went wrong and right. If you didn't catch the last incarnation of yours truly taking the dugout in LS11, you'll probably want to meet the club and its personnel. I won't waffle on, if you want a more in-depth breakdown of what I'm taking on, the previous story is linked here.

THE CLUB


We'll start by taking a look at the club as a whole. For anyone unfamiliar with the club, Leeds United is an English club competing in the Championship, the second tier of English football. The club was founded in 1919 and plays its home games at Elland Road, which holds just under 38,000 spectators and has been home to the club since day one.

The club's most sucessful period came under Don Revie in the late 60's/early 70s, winning the First Division twice, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup twice (the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, later the Europa League), the FA Cup, League Cup and the Community Shield. His side never finished outside the top 4 throughout their time in the top flight under Revie, and would go on to reach the 1975 European Cup Final, in a controversial defeat against Bayern Munich.

The club had a revival in the late 80s/early 90s under Howard Wilkinson, winning promotion from the Second Divison as champions in 1990 (the club slipped down in 1982) and the First Division title in 1992, the last winners before the Premier League.

Leeds challenged for silverware in the late 90s/early 00s, reaching the UEFA Cup Semi-Final in 2000 and the Champions League Semi-Final in 2001, but ultimately fell short. Hampered by financial difficulty, the side that reached those heights was stripped away to keep the club afloat, before United were relegated to the Championship in 2004.

The club were financially hungover and appearing in the 2006 play-off final proved to be a false dawn, with Leeds dropping into the third tier for the first time in its history the following year. Leeds returned at the third time of asking in 2010, but the club was hamstrung by a series of owners unfit to run a bath, let alone a football club and found itself wallowing in the bottom half for most of the 2010s. The club had a close shave when it narrowly missed out on the playoffs under Garry Monk in 2017, before Marcelo Bielsa showed up a year later. The club spent most of the season in the top 2, before slipping to 3rd in the last few weeks and losing in the play-off semi final.

Bear in mind, that was supposed to be a 'brief' overview!

PERSONNEL


As for the squad, I'm working with the same players I had in the previous save, except with the update, I have Jean-Kevin Augustin on loan from RB Leipzig and other minor ins and outs (Eunan O'Kane on loan to Luton, Ian Poveda in from Man City). I'll link the squad run-down here, there's a brief piece about Augustin below as well as an overview of the squad.





The squad does look thin, but it has the quality we need with flexible players across the board, as well as players in our U23s that can step up to the plate if necessary:


As for staff, we're blessed with one of the best set-ups in the division, better than any other team at attack coaching, goalkeeper distribution coaching, man management, judging potential and judging current ability. We'll be prefectly fine for backroom staff whilst we're in the Championship.


If I get twitchy, there's a bit of wiggle room for player recruitment, with £1.2m to spend on transfers and £22.7k per week to spend on wages.

That's it for now, I'll be back with a post on pre-season and any players Victor Orta decides to bring in. Thanks for reading along and hopefully, this should be a good adventure.
Good luck with this. Im very intrigued to see how you do once you get Leeds into the Premier League, and what players you have in mind to recruit. Leeds are too big of a club to languish in the championship for too much longer. ;)
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Good luck here. I hope to see this story blossom into the success story I know it could be!
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Cheers fellas, should be fun!

PRE-SEASON 2019


RESULTS


Leeds United 2-1 En Avant de Guingamp

Helder Costa 75
Yannick Gomis pen 88
Mateusz Klich 90+2


Overall, I was pleased with this performance. My younger players got a good run out, playing the first 60 minutes, before the first team finished Guingamp off. Costa got us in front with a good far post volley after a cross from the left from Douglas. It was worrying to see Cooper needlessly give a penalty which was coolly dispatched by Gomis. We responded well though, and Klich won it for us with a superb volley from the edge of the D after the ball was headed clear, beating the keeper all ends up.

Leeds United 2-0 Eintracht Braunschweig

Patrick Bamford 43
Mateusz Klich pen 88


This was an impressive dominant display, and it was encouraging to see some of the younger players take to the playing style so well. The first was a lovely team effort, starting with Meslier in goal, patiently building from the back and ended with Bamford running onto a through ball from Shackleton, skinning the full back and beating the keeper. The second was very cheeky. Augustin was brought down in the area and Klich opted for the panenka, leaving the keeper with no chance.

Leeds United 1-3 Willem II

Vangelis Pavlidis 5
Mats Kohlert 31
Vangelis Pavlidis 53
Pablo Hernandez 70


In contrast to the first two games, this was a bitterly disappointing showing. We were sluggish, played with no intensity or desire. A truly awful performance. Our only consolation came from a lovely first-time finish from the edge of the box by Pablo Hernandez, after some good work down the left from Harrison. Much improvement needed.

Leeds United 2-2 FC Twente

Stuart Dallas 27
Jean-Kevin Augustin 30
Noa Lang 70
Noa Lang 82


The only excuse we have is that our U23s played the last half an hour. Nonetheless, I was disappointed with how we threw away a lead we'd worked so hard for. The first ball came when Dallas cut inside after an underlapping ball from Douglas and hit a beauty into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. The lead was doubled a few minutes later, when Hernandez supplied Augustin, who turned and curled a screamer into the top corner from roughly the same spot as Dallas hit the first.

Bristol Rovers 0-1 Leeds United
Jean-Kevin Augustin 7


It was a good, if not overly remarkable display for our final pre-season friendly. I used a full strength side and instead of rotating at the 60 minute mark, I slowly introduced my reserve players as the first teamers started to tire. We could have done a much better job of this, but my focus is more on our excursion to Bristol next week, when we kick off the season at Ashton Gate. Augustin bagged the only goal of the game, heading home a Barry Douglas corner at the far post.

IN OTHER NEWS


We unfortunately lost promising youngster Nohan Kenneh to Watford for £775k, he rejected a new contract and decided a club whose sole aim each year is to not finish in the bottom three was a more attractive prospect. Whatever floats your boat I suppose.

In more postive news, Gaetano Berardi agreed an extension of his contract until June 2021, giving us more time to decide where he fits in our plans. We also managed to get rid of Ouasim Bouy, Paul Pogba's hype man is spending the year on loan at Rochdale who have kindly agreed to pay his wages. There's an option-to-buy for £60k, so fingers crossed.


That's it for this update. I'll give concluding thoughts during the league season, the friendlies were just a bit 'meh', to be honest. Hopefully it steps up a gear at the end of August!
A decent pre season but not without its learning curves. Best of luck in the main season!
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The fans will be pleased to see Berardi sticking around for a little while longer at the very least.
1
There is really no excuse for Leeds to not go up, very strong side in the Championship
Eoin97: We got players fit in pre-season, that was the priority. The real learning curve will be the season, and we'll have to learn fast

ScottT: You can't not love Bera, let's be honest

Griffo: I've been relegated a couple of times over the years, and even that wouldn't match the embarassment of not going up


AUGUST 2019


RESULTS


Bristol City 1-1 Leeds United

Jack Harrison 18
Pedro Pereira 29


A week on from our final friendly at Bristol Rovers, we went across the land of the Bristolians to kick off our season against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention they had landed Yaya Toure on a free transfer over the summer.

Jack Harrison opened the scoring inside the opening 20 minutes, popping up with a volley at the far post after a good cross from Helder Costa on the right. City pulled the scores level before the half hour mark, Tommy Rowe's cross from the left found Pedro Pereira at the far post, who tapped in a first time finish. Ultimately, we had plenty of possession but lacked the creativity to create many real chances and struggled to break down their back five.

Leeds United 0-1 Nottingham Forest

Nuno Da Costa 2


After sharing the spoils on the opening day, we were hoping to get off to a good start at Elland Road. We were thrust in front of the Sky cameras under the lights on the Friday and it was a chance to make a good first impression.

The only goal of the game came inside the opening 90 seconds, when Nuno Da Costa headed home a cross from Gaetan Bong. Throughout the game, we created decent chances and dominated possession, but we made it hard for ourselves by not being alert from the start and givng them a lead to sit on. A thoroughly disappointing start.

Leeds United 3-1 Blackpool
Carabao Cup First Round

Sean Scannell 26
Jean-Kevin Augustin 56
Jean-Kevin Augustin 60
Jordan Stevens 90



After a disappointing start to the league, the change of pace for the Carabao Cup was a much welcomed one. Our visitors were League One Blackpool, who have been tipped to make the playoffs this year.

We got off to a poor start again, with the Tangerine Army (or the Blue and Slightly Darker Blue Army for this game) taking the lead midway through the first half. James Husband sent a cross from a deep position on the left and Sean Scannell was left with an easy tap-in.

After a deserved half-time bollocking, we improved in the second half. Augustin got us level 10 minutes after the restart after some patient build-up play from the back. Gotts threaded a through ball and Big Kev powered an effort into the far corner. He got us in front a few minutes later, after some good pressure won Jordan Stevens the ball 20 yards from the byline, Augustin met his right-sided cross to volley home at the near post. Stevens added a goal to his assist near the end. Stuart Dallas broke down Blackpool's game of Brexitball in the middle, before providing a sumptuous through ball to Stevens who slide it past the keeper one-on-one.

Wigan Athletic 0-1 Leeds United
Pablo Hernandez 72


After the relief of getting our first competitive win in midweek, it was back to league football. A trip to Wigan awaited us, a side who had found themselves top of the league with 3-0 and 2-0 wins against Cardiff and Preston respectively. An admirable start, not to be taken lightly.
It was more of a battle than I'd have envisaged before the season started and it was that man, the Spanish wizard, El Magico, Pablo Hernandez who won the game for us. Helder Costa and Gjanni Alioski linked up well on the break down the left, before Costa swung in a cross that Pablo met first time with his weaker left foot at the far post. It was a win I'd have taken in any form before kickoff and hopefully, with a few more results like that, the attractive football will start to follow.

Leeds United 3-3 Brentford

Ollie Watkins 11
Barry Douglas 18
Ollie Watkins 55
Stuart Dallas 83
Mateusz Klich 85
Sergi Canos 86


So we'd just found our feet in the league and along come Brentford. A notoriously difficult side to play against, we were braced for a battle with the added pressure of needing a home win.
Brentford got off to a flyer after 10 minutes. Matthias Jensen floated a free kick over from the left and Ollie Watkins peeled away from his man to score a header. We were brought level with what can only be decribed as a worldie of a free kick. Barry Douglas, who had flattered to deceive last season, curled home a 30-yard free kick into the top corner to bag himself an early contender for goal of the season. Brentford got back in front 10 minutes after the restart, when Christian Norgaard headed Bryan Mbeumo's cross into the path of Watkins, who fired home his second of the night.

Dallas pulled us level with seven minutes remaining, sliding it into the bottom corner one-on-one after being put through on goal by Klich. Klich got us the lead for the first time that night, getting on the end of a high ball from Hernandez to head home from the edge of the box after a lightning fast counter-attack. We couldn't hold on though, literally straight from kickoff they came back at us, and Sergi Canos popped up at the far post to bury Rico Henry's cross and earn the Bees a point.

In the end it was always going to be a tough game. I was disappointed we couldn't keep focussed after taking the lead, but it was a point I would have taken in a game neither side deserved to lose.

Stoke City 0-2 Leeds United

Jack Harrison 51
Jean-Kevin Augustin 76


After a heart-racing 90 minutes against Brentford in midweek, it was about time we settled down and started getting some decent results. Next up was a trip to the potteries to play Stoke. A tough place to go, but we fancied ourselves.

There were some premature celebrations in the first half when Ben White scored with a header, but it was ruled out for offside. We eventually got in front shortly after half time, after winning the ball in Stoke's half. Klich played it to Douglas on the overlap, who in turn found Harrison on the underlap. Bearing down on goal he coolly stuck it in the far corner for his second of the season. The lead was doubled with 15 minutes remaining, after some patient build-up play, Berardi sent over a cross from the right which Augustin met with his head at the near post. It was a dominant display and one in which we showed a real growth in confidence and competence in the game plan.

Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Leeds United
Carabao Cup Second Round

Helder Costa 13
Daniel Powell 70
Patrick Bamford 83


After a resilient display against Blackpool, we were handed an away tie against another North West side in Crewe Alexandra. Crewe find themselves in League Two, but like Blackpool, they've also been tipped for the playoffs this year.

We took an early lead thanks to Helder Costa, who met Stevens' right-sided cross at the far post, fired his first shot at keeper Will Jaaskelainen, before burying the rebound. Crewe hung on as we continued to create chances and eventually managed to pull themselves level through Daniel Powell. He met Harry Pickering's left-sided cross, fired a volley straight at Alioski before hitting home the rebound first time. It wasn't too long before we had our noses back in front though, Robbie Gotts' shot was parried by Jaaskelainen straight into the path of Patrick Bamford, who couldn't miss an open goal from six yards.


It was a game we dominated, but we should have scored more than we ultimately did. Nonetheless, we got what we came for without humiliation, that's all that matters.

Leeds United 2-0 Swansea City

Jean-Kevin Augustin 49
Jean-Kevin Augustin 61


After finally starting to put some results together, attentions turned back to Elland Road, where we were yet to win in the league. That weighed on my mind and there was a chance to set the record straight and go into the first international break on a high.

Like we did against Stoke, we were the better team in the first half and got in front early in the second half. Douglas picked out Harrison with a quickly taken free kick down the left. Harrison broke through on goal, his shot was parried by Freddie Woodman into the path of Augustin, who made no mistake. Douglas was also involved in the second goal, playing a good cross over from the left which Augustin met at the near post for his second of the afternoon. In all, it was a high quality performance, one that set the benchmark for how I want to see us play this year.

LEAGUE TABLE



After a slow start, results have picked up for us and have brought us within touching distance of the top six. Not all the best sides start their seasons all guns blazing and there's still 40 games left to play. The way we played towards the end of the month was encouraging, and it will be great to see us apply that level of football to our run of games after the international break. We'll have aspirations of finishing much higher than we currently are of course, but no reason to believe we can't.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH



Six appearances. Five goals. Jean-Kevin Augustin is off to a flyer and has often made a big difference for us this month, at times winning games all by himself and at others, dragging us out of sticky situations. He's a quality striker and I expected as much, hopefully he can carry that form into next month. Honourable mentions go to Jack Harrison, who has contributed a goal and two assists so far and Mateusz Klich, who has pulled the strings and was a great help to us in the 3-3 against Brentford.

IN OTHER NEWS


Pretty quiet off the pitch so far. No manager movements as yet with the season still being in its infancy. At the club, Alfie McCalmont put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him here until 2022, he's one that I'm really excited to see develop. Gjanni Alioski also signed a new deal until 2022.

In the Carabao Cup Third Round, we've been drawn against Premier League opposition in Burnley, a game that sees us make the trip to Turf Moor.


That's all for now folks, hope you've enjoyed the update and I'll see you in a couple of days when I post the September update.
Great update. A tough month, but in the Championship, what isn't a tough month? Its relentless and unforgiving, and a couple of games can climb you half way up the table, or slide you back down. It will be a huge achievement to gain automatic promotion, and if you do, I would be confident about the next season in the Prem. And Bristol City got Yaya Toure on a free, that is probably the best signing in their history!
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There doesn't seem to be anyone stopping Big Kev this season! We're leaking a few too many goals which is something that Bielsa didn't struggle with! That said, it's very early days and a lot of time to make adjustments. Good luck next month :)
1
An alright month after a tough start. Augustin is firing on all cylinders it seems which is certainly going to be important for any success. Momentum is being built towards the end of the month, long may that continue.
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Eoin97: Yaya is truly the Edgar Davids to Bristol City's Crystal Palace. Fully expect it to be a tough season, but by the same token, we really shouldn't be blowing this

Jack: Big Kev's on fire, absolute mismatch that he's found himself in the Championship, plenty of time to tighten the screws at the back, worth noting we have been playing without Bill so far

TheLFCFan: It took a while to get going but once this team gets through the gears, it's a true force of nature


SEPTEMBER 2019


RESULTS


Barnsley 1-4 Leeds United

Pablo Hernandez 7
Pablo Hernandez 57
Jean-Kevin Augustin 70
Jacob Brown 90
Jack Harrison 90+3


With all but one other game having been played on the Saturday, we were faced with a trip to Oakwell for our first Yorkshire derby of the season against newly-promoted Barnsley. A win would've moved us up to the top 6. We were without Mateusz Klich in the starting XI, due to precautions over a groin knock he picked up during the week.

We were off to a flier, after 7 minutes, Michael Sollbauer intercepted Douglas' cross at the near post, only to be immediately dispossessed by Hernandez, who squeezed his shot into the bottom corner.

The second half was when we truly turned up the heat and just before the hour, Hernandez doubled his and our tally for the afternoon, turning up unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box to turn home Jack Harrison's cut back from the byline. Hernandez played a role in the third goal too, picking out Douglas with a pinpoint pass, who crossed from the left for Augustin to head home at the near post. Barnsley got a consolation goal near the end, through Jacob Brown who buried the rebound after Phillips blocked his initial shot. There was still time for us to have the final say and who else but Pablo to set it up? His corner from the right was headed in at the near post by Harrison.

Needless to say, it was a thoroughly dominant performance and one that saw Pablo back to his absolute all-action best.

Leeds United 2-0 Derby County

Jack Harrison 13
Alfie McCalmont 21



Early in the season, we were presented with the opportunity to exorcise certain demons. The last time Derby came to Elland Road was back in May, when we found ourselves 2-0 up on aggregate before throwing our best chance of a playoff final for 13 years down the drain, as a car crash of a second half saw Derby run out 4-3 victors.

Once again, we came flying out the traps and took the lead within the first 15 minutes. Berardi sent over a cross from the byline which Harrison guided home with a volley at the far post. Our lead was doubled soon after. Ladies and gentleman, introducing Alfie McCalmont, with absolute scorcher from 30 yards after picking the ball up from Hernandez. Ultimately 2-0 flattered Derby, we absolutely battered them and at times, played what could only be described as 'champagne football'.

Burnley 0-0 Leeds United
6-5 on pens
Carabao Cup Third Round


After a decent league run, we were back to the cup and a third round tie away at Premier League side Burnley. We all know how well Sean Dyche has got them set up and they're flying in the league going into this, sitting 4th in the table after trouncing Sheffield United 4-0.

We played well and probably could have won the game in normal time. As it is, it went to penalties. We got off to a nervy start, with Nick Pope saving both Klich and Alioski's penalties in our first two spot kicks, whilst Burnley scored theirs. We were let off the hook when Illan Meslier saved Jay Rodriguez's penalty and Robbie Brady hit the post, whilst we proceeded to score our following two. We went into sudden death with Burnley taking the pressure penalty in each round, with us taking the first of the round. Nick Pope was on top form, keeping out Cooper and Shackleton. Jack Cork was the only Burnley player to miss in sudden death, hitting the post. Ben Mee slammed home the winning penalty. We can be proud of ourselves. We played out of our skin and Forshaw and Shackleton played absolute blinders in the middle. It was a top effort against a very strong side.

Charlton Athletic 0-3 Leeds United
Jack Harrison 5
Jean-Kevin Augustin 11
Mateusz Klich 20



After the narrow miss in the cup in midweek, we were back to league action, and faced with our first London away day of the season. Again, we were up against a newly-promoted side in Charlton Athletic, managed by Leeds United icon Lee Bowyer.

We were starting to make a habit of scoring early and were at it again inside five minutes, as Berardi and Harrison linked up as they had done against Derby last week, with Harrison turning the cross home. We went two up five minutes later. Charlton were knocking it around in our half when the ball came back to David Davis on the halfway line. He was dispossessed by Augustin, who had the freedom of Charlton's half to bear down on goal like a freight train, round it off with a cool finish into the bottom corner. Klich wrapped it up after just twenty minutes, curling a first time effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the D. It was another game where the damage was done early, allowing us to play with freedom and dictate and dominate the game. We're on a serious roll now.

LEAGUE TABLE



Three games, three wins. We're up and at them and on a six-game unbeaten run in the league. There's no reason to believe we can't break into the top two in October. Games are going to come thick and fast, so it's important to maintain this run of form and the quality we're showing in games.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH



After scoring in all three league games this month and genuinely being consistent since a ball was first kicked last month, Jack Harrison takes the honour of Player of the Month this month. His energy and eye for goal have helped us assert our dominance over teams and has been a dream to manage. Coming an extermely close second would be Pablo Hernandez, who actually picked up Championship Player of the Month and has shown more of the Pablo we know than what we saw last month.

IN OTHER NEWS


As previously mentioned, Pablo Hernandez took the league's Player of the Month Award, his dominating display against Barnsley was a particular highlight. We were in amongst the monthly honours on other fronts too, with Alfie McCalmont coming second in the Young Player of the Month Award and myself taking Manager of the Month, with credit of course going to the players and coaching staff.

We received a knock-back on Luke Ayling's fitness. Having made a recovery, he injured himself in an U23s game whilst trying to gain match fitness, with a twisted ankle that will see him out for at least three weeks. He should be ready for action after the next international break.
Encouraging signs in those three games. Very unlucky against Burnley.
A very promising run of form over September :)
In a great position early in the season here!

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