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.
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!
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.