What are football pundit’s expectations of Leeds United? For a newly promoted team this season there is a real mixture of reactions, emotions, and judgements befalling Marcelo Bielsa’s approach and results.
Football Pundit’s Expectations of Leeds United
Bright Start for the Pundits
When the season began, Leeds United were a breath of fresh air. Their attacking style won over fans and pundits alike – ‘dirty Leeds’ were dirty no more. With incredible energy, high pressure, and goals galore (at both ends), the Whites were fast becoming the most anticipated watch of the weekend.
Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness claimed he loved to watch Leeds United more than any other team. Gary Lineker constantly waxed lyrical about Bielsa’s boys on Twitter and Match of the Day, and Laura Woods said that they were fast becoming everyone’s second favourite team on talkSPORT.
Excitement or Naivety?
Then, the tone began to change. What was initially seen as an exciting spectacle, suddenly became naïve and foolhardy. The gaps were there for all to see, both figuratively and physically, and the focus suddenly shifted.
Leeds United and their Argentine manager were being questioned from all corners. It was said that Bielsa was a myth, that his players would burn out, and some even stated that they were promoted because of a global pandemic.
Against the Super League Six
In recent weeks, Leeds United have gone undefeated. Bielsa’s men have gone six games in a row for the first time since 2002, and not without serious opposition. A dramatic late win at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City, an excellent point against Liverpool with the whole country seemingly behind them, and then, on Sunday, an uneventful but disciplined stalemate with the Red Devils of Manchester United. These are not results to be sniffed at, and despite the early criticism, the defensive cracks appear to be healing.
Leeds are unbeaten at Elland Road against the so-called Big Six, with only Tottenham Hotspur yet to visit. Interestingly it will be an away fixture with a home feel. It will be Spurs’ own turf they play on that day after Leeds bought their spare pitch earlier in the season in a vain attempt to improve their surface.
What Do They Expect?
So, the question is, despite all this, what are football pundit’s expectations of Leeds United? Former Rangers man Kris Boyd recently claimed: “I might upset a few here I think Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds, they’ve come up and been wonderful, but I think a lot of it is over-hyped as well,” before going on to suggest that they should be doing much better considering their transfer spending reaching the £100 million mark.
Some seem to forget that this is a newly promoted team. Yes, money has been spent. But other than the excellent Raphinha, the other newcomers have been consistently injured this season. The starting line-up against Manchester United was essentially their Championship side, with only Diego Llorente added to the team that day.
COVID-19, burnout, naivety, over-hype – whatever the concern, Leeds United currently sit in ninth position in the Premier League as a newly promoted team. Yes, they spent a lot of money, but so did Fulham a few years ago, and Aston Villa last season, and look where that got them. A top-half finish for any team new to the league is a reason for optimism and a job well done. Just because there is ‘hype’, doesn’t mean that things will be easy for any team playing top-flight football. That’s why the Premier League is so great.