Leeds United are promoted finally to the Premier League with Marcelo Bielsa in charge. Premier League football is back at Elland Road and It will be a proud moment for all the supporters. They had spent a long 16 years in the second and third tier of the English League. The pain has been heartbreaking for most of them. Bielsa’s boys have gone on a run full of dreams and secured their way back to the Premier League for the fans.
The party began when second-placed West Brom suffered a shocking defeat at Huddersfield on Friday which finally put an end to the long-awaited absence from the Premier League. With third-placed Brentford’s defeat against Stoke City on Saturday, they clinched the Championship title.
Leeds United are promoted to Premier League: A glance at the whole journey
Leeds have spent an impressive and excellent successful campaign after bouncing back from the heartbreak of last season’s play-off to clinch promotion and return to the top flight for the first time since 2004. They could have returned to the Premier League previous season but it was their misfortune that they couldn’t make it last season. Despite spending most of the season in the top two, they failed to make automatic promotion. They collected just a point from their final four games and went into the play-offs.
They crashed out of the play-offs to Derby County in a chaotic second-leg at Elland Road where Leeds suffered a 4-2 defeat by Frank Lampard’s team.
Leeds United was relegated from of the Premier League in 2003-04 season, just after three years of reaching the semifinal of the Champions League. The 2006-07 season was even bitter for them. Leeds confirming their relegation to League One for the first time in their club’s history they had demoted in the third tier. In 2009-10, this Yorkshire club was back in the championship.
Leeds had 5 changes in ownership and 15 managers have been changed over these 16 years. They appointed Marcelo Bielsa as their manager and rest is history. They’ve learned from the mistakes of these years and certainly learned the hard way and during this season, they have taken advantage of the opportunity without missing it and sealed the promotion as well as bagged the Championship trophy with one match to go. Leeds United are promoted finally to top-tier after a long absence.
Leeds United are promoted to Premier League: A Look at Bielsa’s Approach
Marcelo Bielsa, nicknamed ‘El Loco’ is the man who has brought about a bigger change since his appointment in 2018-19. He is a well-known Argentinian manager who has had long managerial stints for Newell’s Old Boys, Athletico Bilbao in La Liga and Lille. Bielsa’s coaching of a football club doesn’t involve any attention to detail. He is a tactical genius.
A system is the most refined representation of a manager’s approach. A system reacts to different situations by expressing itself in the player’s actions throughout the game. Each player has their characteristics, skills, and the manager’s job is to combine them to create a symbiotic system that wins football matches. In this tactical analysis, We will look at the ideology of the Argentine which is known as Bielsa-ball.
This is Bielsa’s classic 4-1-4-1 formation. This is his most-used lineup of this season. Kiko Casilla starts in goal. Ben White, the impressive Brighton loanee starts alongside captain Liam Cooper in the centre-back position. The full-backs are the major part of the whole system where Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling take charge. Kalvin Philips plays as the defensive midfielder behind Mateusz Klich and Pablo Hernandez who plays as number 10. Costa and Jack Harrison are the wide players while Patrick Bamford is the lone striker.
A football enthusiast in the strategic side of football has probably heard of Bielsa’s fancy and bizarre structure of 3-3-1-3. The Leeds team start with a 4-1-4-1 off-the-ball formation.
During offensive overloads when Leeds wins the ball, the shape does change. The Leeds United team has particularly been praised on movement exchange so that opposing defences have to be constantly adjusted and also on the speed of transition, both offensively and defensively. In short, Bielsa’s Leeds team is constantly on the move and rarely stationary, either trying to win the ball by tracking back and having won the ball, move forward simultaneously to create an attack.
Initially, both the fullbacks are pushed forward and the defensive midfielder goes a bit deeper and effectively creates a back three. In midfield, a midfielder will be similarly positioned who is closer to the striker than his midfield partner, while the wingers put high pressure on opponents to extend the defensive line.
To truly understand what it is doing, one must look at how its unique components fit perfectly into a system designed to make them shiny. Central midfielders can go very close to the striker, joining the attack to create offensive overloads, and the relentless swarm of players in the box proves dangerous for the opponent. Players rarely touch more than twice when attacking. These are all features of a Bielsa’s team.
Leeds United promoted to EPL: Players to Look For
1. Patrick Bamford (Target Man)
Bamford is the fulcrum of Bielsa’s formation. He is strong, holds off defenders and is suitable for keeping the ball. The general strategy in the attack is to use Bamford as a target man who can hold the ball and pass it to the midfielders or wingers playing around him.
Hadn’t been he wasted, Bamford would have been hailed as a prototypical modern striker. But that doesn’t matter, because he’s a perfect fit for Bielsa’s team. He works closely with the other weapons in Leeds.
2. Luke Ayling (Orchestrator)
Ayling is a playmaker who is focused on providing the ball to the attack and is responsible for the offensive transition in 3-1-3-3. This is because often Ayling will get the ball to the right and vice versa. He can move according to his position, either wide enough to create width or operate in tight spaces in the middle and keep pace within the midfield. He can switch play by passing on the left to find an empty channel to exploit.
Ayling’s ability goes beyond creating overloads, as he is the one who can orchestrate Bielsa’s one-of-a-kind defensive approach known as underlap. Ayling can pull an opposing player out and get the ball wide to the right-hand side, leaving space behind that opponent. A fullback can also act as a wide playmaker or an attacking midfielder.
3. Kalvin Philips (Anchor Man)
Another player inherited by Bielsa, Philips is the defensive midfielder in the whole system. In the defensive setup, He works right in front of the defence as the first ‘1’ in the 4-1-4-1.
He will often be responsible for the transition to 3-3-1-3 where he is the perfect mix of combat build and composure that enables him to win the ball and deliver the ball and seemingly always looking forward to the avenue.
When fullbacks are pushed by the opponents, Phillips drops into the centre and allows them to expand and keep the ball moving, creating more of those overloads. And, of course, He can spread the ball on his own with his range of his passing which is amazing which often sees that ball at Bamford’s feet. Phillips, Bamford and Ayling are the representative of the unique features of the Leeds team.
Bielsa’s run in the Premier League: Can the Argentine succeed in the Premier League?
Marcelo Bielsa is one of the great and influential tactical minds in modern football who has managed historical clubs like Bilbao or Newell’s Old Boys. His football philosophy belongs to the Cruyffian school of football which involves quick short passing with high pressing and dominating possession. He has adapted to the physical culture of the Championship very well which is most important to fit in the Premier League due to its high-intensity football. We can hope that Bielsa and his Leeds should fit right into the Premier League. Leeds United are promoted to the Premier League finally and they have the potential to stay there for a long time.
Leeds United are finally promoted to Premier League. How will they fare in EPL? Let us know in the comment section below.