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Leeds United: Continuando el Legado

Started on 22 November 2021 by Jack
Latest Reply on 26 January 2022 by J_ames

Liverpool confirm title, end Leeds’ European hopes at Anfield

Liverpool were able to regain their 20th Premier League title with a marvellous 5-0 victory at Anfield.

The Reds went into the final match of the 2021/22 season just one point ahead of title rivals Manchester United, who were playing Wolves at Old Trafford at the same time.

Klopp’s side were not the only team fighting for something on the day, though, with the Whites completing their climb into the top half and competing for one of the last two European spots provided in the Premier League.

Leeds started the day just one point behind 7th placed Aston Villa and two points behind 6th placed Arsenal who were playing Burnley (18th) and Tottenham (10th) on the day.

Both sets of fans knew this tie would be one of the toughest matches of the season, but it was Liverpool who took the initiative initially through Roberto Firmino in the 23rd minute.

Shortly after the Brazilian forward’s goal, the Leeds floodgates seemed to open up, with Divock Origi completing his brace and Mohamed Salah scoring before the half-time whistle blew.

With the title in the bag, Klopp was able to treat the spectators to a confident, free-flowing display in the second half, one worthy of champions.

The action on the goals front slowed down, with Virgil van Dijk leaping up from a Thiago corner in the 90th minute the only goal of the second period to make it 5-0.

It surfaced after the match that Leeds would have needed a win to reach the Europa Conference League, with Arsenal qualifying just two points ahead of Leeds following a 1-0 loss in the North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

As Liverpool lifted the title in Merseyside again, the away fans took some solace in that by being defeated, they simultaneously denied their arch-rivals - and common enemy with Liverpool - Manchester United winning the Premier League title.

The conclusion of this season’s Premier League puts Liverpool on level terms with Manchester United for English top division titles as both North-West teams sit on 20 titles apiece.

As for Leeds, manager Mateo Pérez will need to analyse his weaknesses from his first term as manager following his one-year contract extension handed in March.

Pérez was able to better his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa’s season in charge in the Premier League, finishing 5 points and one league position ahead of the Argentine’s 2020/21 achievement in what is generally being considered another great season in the English top-flight for the 2020 EFL Championship winners.

Tango: Sadly it was a little too late, but some marvellous performances got us within touching distance
Next season you tend to do better: as you clearly improved after the transfer window, this is only mathematical so far. You've clearly got to improve your composure against the stronger clubs, though. It is part of the game to lose the qualification spot, but if your team falls appart like this it's time to ask some questions
I thought I'd commented on the update before this one, but it appears not! Never fear, that just means... 2 GIF's this time around ;) After a fast start to life at Elland Road, the form of Rhys Healey seemed to drop off, which was to be expected really. There was no chance he was continuing it long-term! The wins against Leicester and Arsenal were magnificent, and show that there's a world class manager in the dugout at Leeds United: he just needs time.

At the end of the day, a 5-0 loss on the final day that eliminates you from qualifying for European football is a bit annoying, with it more annoying due to the fact that it was the Conference League and it would've been AMAZING to travel around Europe playing at proper football stadiums. Regardless, it's been a successful season for the club, and with an off-season ahead, I've full faith the Mateo strengthens the squad considerably.

Impressive stuff. I remember Leeds finishing in similar positions in the late 90s. Great times for you lot back then, but I get a sneaky feeling even better times are on the way now Pérez is in charge. Liverpool spoiled the FA cup and European dream... getting revenge on them next year would feel like a trophy win in itself!

April - May 2022

The final two months of the season concluded another good run of games as we headed into the spring and summer months of the season. With an eight-match unbeaten run leading into our final fixture against Liverpool, it has shown us to be more than capable in the Premier League now.

We continued our winning run stemming from February as Mateusz Klich’s late penalty in the 87th minute gave us all three points away from home against struggling Wolves.

In our next game in April, we nudged Norwich City back down into the relegation zone which they had impressively climbed out of in early February thanks to an Andrea Petagna double despite Teemu Pukki’s first-half equaliser.

Our late-season push for European football began with a huge 1-0 home win against Aston Villa in a very tight win. Again, it was midfielder Mateusz Klich proving to be the difference in the second half as he showed his composure in important matches yet again.

From Villa, we travelled to Crystal Palace to face another relegation battler. However, they were swept aside by Mateusz Klich and a late Jack Harrison confirmation goal to take home the three points as they stayed glued to the bottom of the table.

The wins and our 4th clean sheet out of 5 came in our last game of the month against another relegation struggler Burnley. Andrea Petagna, Mateusz Klich and Raphinha all scored to win all three points and push us further into European contention.

Our first game of the final month of the campaign was at Elland Road again, taking on yet another struggler in Brighton. We were able to coast past the Seagulls to a 4-0 win with Petagna, Struijk, Harrison and Klich all able to slot past Robert Sánchez.

Hopes of Europe were kept alive due to the point that we gained at our first top 4 fixture of the two months against Manchester City. Andrea Petagna put us ahead in the second half with a header, flicked on by Liam Cooper. However, it was the prior assister that killed off our dreams of three points at the Etihad Stadium as Cooper put the ball in the back of his own net with only five minutes left to play.

We did go back to winning ways after Man City with an impressive 2-0 win against Brentford at a sold out Brentford Community Stadium. Andrea Petagna was on the scoresheet again for his 10th and final goal in 16 league games since joining in January. Kalvin Phillips was able to join the Italian striker on the scoreboard just after the hour mark to provide an exciting final day for all neutrals.

However, despite the build-up of an upset at Anfield to give us the boost we needed to reach Europe, we were floored by the time the first 45 minutes were up as we found ourselves 4-0 down in front of a jubilant Liverpool crowd who were all celebrating winning the title, with their required win all but confirmed. Virgil van Dijk rubbed salt in our wounds in the 90th minute but Leeds fans stuck around the stadium to see their academy graduate James Milner lift his 4th Premier League title at the age of 36.

Looking at the final table, we are obviously disappointed that we couldn’t push for another result somewhere so that we could look forward to Europe in 2022/23, but the progress that the squad has made and that I have made as a manager has been a significantly good sign.

We finished five points better than last season’s outstanding return to the top-flight and just two points away from Europe.

At the top of the table, Liverpool were able to confirm their title win against us on the final day, with Man United lurking three points behind as runners-up under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. They will be hoping that the Premier League top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo can maintain his standards next season as he scored 32 goals in 31 games this season.

Following up in the Champions League spots were Manchester City and Chelsea meanwhile Southampton, Aston Villa and Spurs all qualify for the Europa League (Spurs via winning the Europa Conference League this season). Arsenal dropped into the Europa Conference League on the final day due to their loss to Spurs and Aston Villa’s win vs Burnley.

The bottom three of Crystal Palace, Burnley and Norwich City will be replaced by Fulham, Sheffield United and Bournemouth who have all been promoted from the Championship, with West Brom the only team to not make an immediate bounce-back to the top-flight following their 2021 relegation.

The team to look out for next season will certainly be Newcastle, though. They finished comfortably in mid-table this season, but with the ambition already shown in the transfer market so far with the arrivals of Raúl Jiménez, Diego Carlos and Matheus Nunes this season, they don’t seem to be showing any signs of holding back in their quest for Europe and beyond under their new ownership.

Tango: The lack of European football is only annoying simply because of how close we came to achieving it! If you asked me about expectations back in October, I would have just wanted to stay up and the increase is all down to the players buying into the systems implemented.
James: Healey has been different class since returning from French football, really impressed by him - particularly given his transfer fee of £2M. As for Europe, it would have been amazing to reach that last spot but I'm sure we won't give up on the idea next term.
Max: We're getting closer to where we were as a club in the 90s and early 2000s, but yes, Liverpool have been a constant curse which is no surprise given their title win. Time to slowly bring them down a peg I think!
It's quite the run of form that you went on towards the end of the season, and I can only imagine your frustration at the Liverpool result as it was happening. Considering the start to the season, Mateo has done magnificently to turn things around, and with an off-season under his belt: he can get things in even better shape.

Also, you need to sign Adama Traoré ASAP imo,

Looks like it all Klich’d into place in the end.

With Mateo Pérez’s first season in charge of Leeds United following the three-year reign, pundits and experts have been looking intently at the tactical setup seen throughout the 2021/22 season.

Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 and 3-3-1-3 tactical set-ups were notorious in the spells in the Championship and the Premier League for its fast-tempo, attacking and possession-based style with the club dominating in the Championship on almost all attacking statistics.

Before taking the first-team role, Mateo Pérez’s main experience was with Mark Jackson’s U23 side where they were told to play a similar style to Bielsa to help with the integration of youth into the first-team.

3-4-3 / 5-4-1

Pérez’s preseason and entry into the 21/22 campaign was using his 3-4-3 / 5-4-1 formation, using a similar Bielsa feature to when his sides faced a team who played two strikers together.

The three at the back with Liam Cooper, Pascal Struijk and Diego Llorente was used to deal with a front two but Pérez used this regardless of his opponents attacking set-up.

In midfield, Kalvin Phillips usually dropped into his normal position of cutting up the opponents passing lanes, meanwhile Klich was allowed the freedom to get forward and join the attacks as he had done throughout his Championship seasons.

On the wings, wing-backs were used mainly in the form of Júnior Firpo and Stuart Dallas to overlap and create interplay with the wingers and central midfielders, creating a triangle passing situation on the flanks in order to play the ball into Patrick Bamford.

In the first thirteen matches, this formation only managed to secure two wins and 11 points in total which triggered a change in the late November/Christmas period.

However, with Pérez’s January signings in hand, the formation was brought back in late February with a 3-0 win against Watford. This started a run of 11 unbeaten games until Leeds’ final match 5-0 loss against Liverpool, in which Pérez used a different setup.


Following Leeds’ 2-0 loss to Aston Villa in November, Pérez introduced a new 4-2-3-1 system which began to incorporate Rodrigo into the starting line-up.

This had an immediate effect on results, with Pérez’s initial poor run in the league instantly changing fortunes as Leeds went on a six-game winning run, ending with a Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool at Elland Road.

The two central midfielders in this line-up tended to be more defensive with Phillips and one of Jamie Shackleton or Adam Forshaw filling in for Klich’s role in the 3-4-3 / 5-4-1.

In a back four, the defensive set up was much more defensive when it came to the full-backs as Ayling and Firpo were told to stay back, meaning it was up to the front four chiefly to create attacking attempts.

New striker Rhys Healey thrived in this formation more than Patrick Bamford due to his attacking movement, rather than the emphasis on the defending from the front that was enforced on Bamford in different setups.

4-4-2 Diamond

The 4-4-2 Diamond was perhaps the most unused formation used this season by Pérez and at the same time, the formation most unlike his predecessors’.

The system was only used 6 times in the Premier League by Pérez but was only able to produce one single victory as it became too defensive in the line-up, with Struijk and Koch - usually defenders - moved into midfield with Kalvin Phillips, another defensive-minded midfielder.

This left Leeds with only three real attacking options between Rodrigo, Rhys Healey and Patrick Bamford. This formation stopped in its usage shortly after the sale of Patrick Bamford to Newcastle United in January.

It is likely that due to the later success of the 3-4-3 / 5-4-1 formation, almost certainly influenced by Bielsa, that we will see Pérez using more of that system in the upcoming season.

Pérez used a mixture between that and the 4-2-3-1 formation. However, as shown after the January transfer window, Pérez’s set-ups depend on the coming transfer window and what kind of targets that the Spaniard is looking at alongside his Director of Football Victor Orta.

James: I think it's just beating the bigger teams that we really struggle with at this point! If we can sort that out, we can be talking about Europe every season so long as we sustain our wins against the other 13 sides.
Justice: Appreciate the pun, however, I am led to believe it's pronounced 'Klee' :(
I like this completely change of mood that El Loco gives to their teams using his wingers and wingbacks. Glad that you kept it

The summer transfer window of 2022 saw us become Europe’s joint-third biggest spenders, tied with Manchester City and behind Newcastle United and Manchester United.

Across seven transfers, we spent £114M, with five players coming immediately into our first-team.

Our first deal was to complete the transfer of 16-year-old Australian/Spanish/English winger Francisco Jesús Rey from League Two outfit Bolton Wanderers.

Rey joined for a fee of £475,000 following the club’s relegation from the third tier where he made two substitute appearances.

Just four days later, we completed another development signing by bringing in another Francisco, this time for a £400,000 fee from Atlético Madrid.

The 18-year-old featured 30 times for Atlético Madrileño in the U19 Division 1 Group 7, scoring twice and assisting five times from centre midfield.

However, due to Brexit, Francisco was unable to fulfill the correct parameters for a UK work permit so he will spend the 2022/23 campaign in the Segunda División with Numancia.

The first first-team signing of the summer was the decision to bring Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nández into the club for a fee of £12.5M from Serie A club Cagliari.

Nández, 26, made 118 appearances for Cagliari over the three years he spent in Sardinia. It is likely that Nández is to be a replacement for Luke Ayling, who was subject to a publicly-known bid from Brentford.

The 52-time international has been linked with us throughout Bielsa’s term at the club but never came to fruition. As well as being a natural midfielder, Nández can also play as a right wing-back.

We bolstered the centre of our defence as we intend to continue with our three-at-the-back system. Edson Álvarez was the first centre-back through the door, signing from Ajax for a fee of £24M, potentially rising to £28M.

Álvarez started his career with Club América in Mexico before a move to the Netherlands to link up with the Dutch champions Ajax. At Ajax, he won the Eredivisie twice as well as the domestic cup.

At 24, he has already made 62 international appearances for Mexico and was part of the Gold Cup winning squad of 2019.

With a lack of affordable options in the transfer market for versatile wingers, we turned to the domestic loan market to bring in Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi for the season. Chelsea also demanded that we insert a £77million option-to-buy at any point during the spell but with our finances, it is unlikely that we will activate that.

Hudson-Odoi was a bit-part player for Chelsea last season, only making 7 starts in all competitions in addition to 13 substitute appearances. The 21-year-old scored 3 goals and assisted 2 times out of these appearances.

Our biggest deal of the window was undoubtedly the £40M deal bringing Dušan Vlahović from Fiorentina.

The Serbian has grown a reputation as one of the hottest prospects in European football throughout his time in Italy. He scored 47 goals in 88 appearances whilst at Artemio Franchi in Florence.

The transfer may rise by another £18.5M based on performance metrics but we are delighted to have an outstanding player to compete with Andrea Petagna and Joe Gelhardt following the latter’s return from his loan spell at Nottingham Forest.

Our only movement on Deadline Day was to bring in Sporting’s young centre-back Gonçalo Inácio for £30M, brought in following Liam Cooper’s loan move to Ajax which will become a permanent £4.1M transfer if the Eredivisie favourites win their title.

Inácio was a Sporting academy graduate and was handed his debut under Rúben Amorim, leading to 81 appearances in just two years for the 21-year-old.

Along with Álvarez, Llorente, Struijk and possibly Charlie Cresswell via the academy, we have a solid back-line with good back-ups at our disposal.

On the departures side, we let two senior players go from the Championship days at the end of their contracts with Adam Forshaw leaving to Hull City and 29-year-old full-back Laurens De Bock - who had not featured since 2018 (pre-Bielsa) - joined Amiens.

Hélder Costa returned from his unsuccessful Valencia loan without the LaLiga side wanting to activate their option to buy, leading to his transfer-listing here, where Fenerbahçe picked the Portuguese winger up for £3.8M. This kick-started the sale of two other loaned-out players as Tyler Roberts departed for £5.5M to Anderlecht and disgraced goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to Dynamo Moscow for £575,000.

Club icon Luke Ayling finally ended his six-year stay at the club, joining fellow Premier League side Brentford for £5M. This was followed by another Premier League side coming in for Rhys Healey whose form had dipped after January. He joined West Ham for £3M.

The biggest deal going out of the door was the sale of Dan James to Borussia Dortmund, leaving for £19M. Last season, James only made six starts and 17 substitute appearances as he scored only two goals and created one goal. This meant he was underwhelming considering the £25M that we paid in 2021, it seemed the correct decision to sell before his valuation decreased any more.

The final two deals were loans for our senior players as Rodrigo heads to Ligue 1’s Nice who have a £5.5M mandatory fee to pay if he makes 25 league appearances. Similarly, Liam Cooper has a £4.1M mandatory fee in place with Ajax if they win the Eredivisie title.

16 players have departed on loan, mainly from the U23s with the most significant moves being Lewis Bate, Max Dean, Stuart McKinstry, Leif Davis, Crysencio Summerville and Alfie McCalmont to Blackpool, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Bolton, Midtjylland and PAOK respectively.

Tango: He instilled the system so well beforehand, it would have changed the entire dynamic to tear it away from this squad, credit to Don Marcelo on that one :D
You had me from this:

To this:

So many emotions in that update. A lot of the deals make a lot of sense, and in the case of the players you brought in: they're all very good players. So you've definitely upgraded the level of the squad, and almost all of the departures make sense too. A lot of money out, and quite a bit brought in too.

Were some of your deals done on installments?
The squad has been definitely improved. If you don't get any European spot this season, you're fired
What a run that was towards the end of the season up till that Liverpool game. It was a tough result to suffer against a tough team. But there are certainly signs that next year could see a push to the top six. That is made even more by a tremendous window with the arrivals of Vlahović and Álvarez the clear highlights for me. A shame to lose a couple of the real long term names of the club but they have been replaced well. Good luck for the new season!
Great read this mate, thoroughly enjoying it!
I can see Odoi doing some really good things for you. Europe next year should be more than achievable, good luck!

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