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FM21 Leeds United - Bielsa's Legacy Lives!

Started on 2 June 2021 by ippe
Latest Reply on 9 June 2021 by TheLFCFan
  • POSTS6
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I wrote a little story about my first save on FM21 with in here:

After that I have managed clubs such as AS Roma, Deportivo La Coruna and Sevilla. However, I wanted to return to England for what will probably be my last long-ish save on FM21.

I usually select my club based on which club would need me as a manager the most. I thought about Tottenham and Everton who are curently managerless in real life but Spurs' squad seems rather boring and as an LFC fan I just couldn't bring myself to manage Everton, who would totally need my help by the way!

Instead I opted to go for the Leeds United! Don't get me wrong, after a great season in the Premier League the heroes of the Elland Road don't need my help in the virtual world, but I just liked their squad a lot and Marcelo Bielsa has some miles in him, so I thought to do a little experience about time after Bielsa at Leeds United.

I really like what Bielsa has done with the club and their squad, so I try to continue and respect his legacy in the world of FM21! I set few rules for myself in order to achieve that.


- Must play attractive high tempo football.
- Must be loyal to current players where possible and try to keep the current core together.
- Give opportunities to youngsters

I have already finished my first season and will write a report on that soon.
Actually before we go into the season, let's go through the tactics quickly.


I haven't created a downloadable link for my tactic but you can copy it from the pictures below if you really want to try it out.

So it's a pretty basic 4-3-3 which Leeds uses in real life under Bielsa and I believe the roles are rather similar too. I use positive mentality to get more guys forward and try to build from the back in order to gain control of the games. I tried to use higher tempo but I felt it offered little positives and just led to more turnovers, so I scrapped it pretty soon.

I think rest of the instructions are pretty self-explanatory. I aim to press from higher up and therefore make it difficult to opposition to build from the back and force them to play long ball or play risky passes on their own end. I always use 'Defend Narrower' too, as I feel the standard option just leaves too much space between my defenders and it's too easy for the opposing team to play through balls.

I don't give specific instructions to my players and use the assistant recommendations for the opposition instructions.

What it comes to roles, I try to use different roles for wingers and central midfielders and like the fact that there isn't two players who try to do exactly the same thing. I think the forward can be Pressing Forward (A) too but I feel like Complete Forward offers more variety. In midfield DLP (D) is partnered with one workhorse (BBM) and one more attacking player (Mezzala S).

I don't think it's worth it to set my central defenders to BBD (D) as the team instructions already tells them to build from the back. Wing Backs are both WB (S) as I feel it's all-around good role. Sometimes I used Ayling as WB (D) but he stayed too low for my liking.

I use higher defensive line and offside trap, so I feel it's essential to have the goalkeeper role at SK (A). In that way Meslier rushes out more and can claim through balls easier.
Season 2020/21

The Media Prediction was 9th and the board just wanted mid-table finish, so I felt little pressure going into the season. I didn't actually set any specific goals for us but I always want to do better than the media prediction.

Before the season I sold Kiko Casilla (Kick Racism Out of Football) for £3,6M and bought Rico Henry from Brentford for £10M. During the season I also triggered the £10M clause on Jack Harrison's loan deal and made the transfer permanent.


Fixtures-wise it was a tale of three seasons in the Premier League. We had a mixed start for the season as we started the season with a 4-0-5 record. The losses against Newcastle and Crystal Palace were especially hard to take as we outplayed them but that's just how it goes sometimes I guess.

However we managed to up our game and ended the year on a positive note winning five out of 6 games in December. During the month we managed to beat Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham which was especially pleasing. The form continued in January as well, as we were only beaten by Liverpool and won the other four fixtures. I didn't take a screenshot of our league position as I wasn't sure if I'm going to share this, but we were 4th in the league after this run.

We operated at a very thin squad and perhaps the fatigue started to take it's toll towards the end of the season as we went 6-9-2 on the last 17 games. The draws against lower half teams were especially frustrating as we could have easily finished 4th. Actually we were 4th going to the last round but as Arsenal managed to win their game and Brighton held us to 0-0 draw, we dropped to 5th.

League Table

Continental Cups

I thought continental cups were good opportunity to give playing time to youngsters such as Jamie Shackleton but to be fair our squad was so thin that we were forced to play our first choice team in almost every game.

The FA Cup run ended in bitter disappointment in round 3 as we were bettered by Championship team Nottingham Forest, so let's just move to Carabao Cup.

And that was a completely different stroy as we went all the way! It was a tricky start for the cup as penalties were needed against Bournemouth and Liverpool but we managed to turn these tight games to wins and after eliminating Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United from the tournament I was sure we would win against Leicester in the final!

Sure enough we were 2-0 up at the half-time as Rodrigo and Raphinha scored and 2nd half goal for Under turned out to be just a consolation prize for Leicester.

Squad Analysis

Player-wise it was a weird season. Despite our success in the league we had only 5 players with an avg rating over 7.00. Three of these players were central defenders and Meslier is there too, so our best players were defensive minded. Raphinha was the only attacking player with a good season and I guess Helder Costa and Rodrigo contributed well considering their limited roles but other than that I was disappointed to quite a few players.

Tyler Roberts gets a free pass as a youngster but Bamford, Harrison, Dallas and Klich were the players I was especially disappointed with.

League Stats:

Transfer Plans

Considering our involvement in the Europa League we need few new players to supplement the squad but I'll keep the rules in mind and keep the current players around too.

I'd say we still need a new Striker, Winger and perhaps two Central Midfielders.

As you can see from the previous messages Crystal Palace got relegated and signing Eze is one of my priorities for the summer.

I keep posting after new season has progressed for few months but I don't want to put any pressure on myself to play this quickly, so it might take a while before I'm back with this.
Transfers of the summer 2021

As previously mentioned, the main objective of the summer was to add quality pieces to our squad since we had narrow squad to begin with and we would now have Europa League games too.

Here are the main transfers, and there were plenty!

Ebere Eze, Crystal Palace, £29,5M
Boubakary Soumare, Lille OSC, £25,5M
Marc Cucurella, Getafe, £32,5M
João Pedro, Watford, £37,5M
José Juan Macías, £7,5M
Faitout Maouassa, Stade Rennais, £7,5M

Total: £140M

Rico Henry, Brighton, £22M
Ezgjan Alioski, KRC Genk, £8,75M
Mateusz Klich, Porto, £16,75M
Barry Douglas, WBA, £1,5M
Hélder Costa, Espanyol, £10M

Total: £59M.

As mentioned Ebere Eze was one of my priorities for the Mezzala role and since Palace got relegated this was relatively easy transfer to make. The other big signing for the midfield was Soumare from Lille. He is a good box-to-box midfielder and as a 22-year-old player he has plenty of time to develope.

I ended up selling both of my Left Backs as Rico Henry and Ezgjan Alioski had disappointing seasons. I very rarely sell players I have bought after just one season but I bought Henry for £10M and had a chance to over double my money on him after weak season, so it was a no-brainer for me to move him on. It was sad to sell Alioski as he had been at the club for a long time but he isn't too good defender, so I felt it had to be done. Cucurella and Maouassa came in to fill the LB roles.

Klich and Costa were also though sells but but I felt Klich wasn't playing at high enough level and despite his excellent work rate and stamina it was time for him to move on. Costa was bit trickier as he had a decent season last year but his attributes aren't that good and I didn't think his form was sustainable.

Macias was a bit f a luxury signing but he has finishing of 16 and long shots of 15 and for a team that needs goals, those kind of attributes are desperately needed. I brought Joao Pedro in as a striker as I've seen him developing to one of the best strikers around in my past saves. I could have signed Iheanacho for a similar price but his agent demanded £45M buy out clause and near £100K a week wages, so I turned him down.

I'll insert the player profiles of the major signings on the spoiler below.

Overall, I think I did very well. I now have two good options for every position and multiple guys that are versatily enough to play couple of positions with ease. I feel we also have a great mixture of playes as we have 5 players of 30 or over and five players of 21 or under in our first team squad. The vast majority of players are between 22 and 25 years old, so I feel we can keep this squad together for a long time.

Despite our rather high transfer spendings, we still have the 5th lowest wage budget on the PL with only Burnley, Fulham and the three promoted teams spending less on wages.

A very good first season there. Some nice signings as well, exciting season ahead!

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