One thing was happening for sure when Marcelo Bielsa took over at Leeds United – there was definitely not going to be a lack of effort!
After coming agonisingly close and faltering to secure promotion on more than one occasion, Leeds turned to the veteran manager to overturn their fortunes and finally end their 17-year wait to return to the top flight.
The union seemed like a match made in heaven right from the off and the decision has certainly paid off for the club.
The Argentine is widely regarded as one of the most demanding coaches in football and oversaw somewhat of a philosophical revolution at Elland Road to secure the club’s much-awaited return to top-flight football last season.
Shelving the more pragmatic approaches taken by his predecessors, Bielsa has turned Leeds into a dynamic attacking force that can give any team in the league a run for their money.
New division, same Leeds
Despite quite literally blowing away teams in the Championship, there were a few doubters who questioned whether Bielsa’s young Leeds side had the pedigree to keep themselves in the top flight.
More than halfway through the season, it seems safe to say that those questions have been quite authoritatively answered by his team.
Matchday 1 served as a trailer of sorts for the swashbuckling football to come from Leeds as they unnerved champions Liverpool and were unlucky to narrowly lose the tie 4-3.
Leeds’ record of 38 goals scored so far this season is a testament to the high octane brand of football their veteran coach has implemented at Elland Road since taking over.
Attack with the ball, and without it
Apart from playing a fast, attractive and lethal style of football, Bielsa’s teams have also been lauded for showing relentless spirit when out of possession as well.
Bielsa has seemingly instilled that persistent attitude at Leeds as well, with a recent report suggesting that the Whites are the Premier League’s hardest workers without the ball.
Leeds United were found to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of allowing their opponents the fewest passes per defensive action and also ranked high in terms of ‘challenge intensity’ (defensive actions per minute).
The finding will definitely not surprise anyone who has seen Leeds play with the Peacocks often keeping a high line and pressing hard from the front whenever they loose possession.
With a dynamic unit of players who chase teams down whenever their side is dispossessed, supporters will definitely be expecting to see Leeds maintain their high ranking in the pressing department when the season comes to an end as well.