2004 was the last time Leeds United played a Premier League fixture, with the three times English champions struggling in the Championship, and even League One, for the last 14 years. That will be stretched into a 15th campaign but there is reason for optimism at Elland Road now, for the first time in a long time.
Leeds’ plans are well underway for the 2018/19 campaign with mid-June bringing the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa, arguably the most high-profile appointment the club has made since Terry Venables replaced David O’Leary back in 2002. Venables’ appointment was the start of a dramatic fall from grace, with Leeds relegated from the Premier League in 2004.
Bielsa has become Leeds’ 14th permanent head-coach since their relegation in 2004, with nobody since Kevin Blackwell in 2006 getting the Whites anywhere near a Premier League return, with the job at Elland Road ruining managerial careers.
✍️ | #LUFC are delighted to announce the appointment of Argentine Marcelo Bielsa in the role of head coach
— Leeds United (@LUFC) June 15, 2018
The size of the job facing Bielsa is huge, with a squad that finished 13th in the Championship last season needing a reshape. However, the club’s first move of the summer to bring Bielsa in is an excellent one, with a head-coach with incredible pedigree now in place. Currently, Leeds are priced at 4/1 to win promotion with bet365’s Championship betting market, with the Whites amongst the favourites now to end their long wait for a top-flight return.
Bielsa’s arrival is a coup, with the ex-Argentina and Chile boss stepping into the Championship but, now, he must assemble a side capable of challenging in one of the most difficult divisions in world football. It remains to be seen if the 62-year-old turns to his favoured 3-3-1-3 formation, which would suit plenty of Leeds’ squad, but would also test the ability of too many to name.
Leeds have some good players on their books; Pablo Hernandez has been a Spanish international at a time when his country dominated world football, whilst Pontus Jansson is representing Sweden at the World Cup 2018. Added to that, Luke Ayling and Samuel Saiz are excellent Championship players, whilst Leeds are looking to bring the likes of Abel Hernandez, Matej Vydra and Angus Gunn on board.
— Leeds United Away Days (@LeedsAwayDays1) February 21, 2018
Signing the latter will be made easier by Bielsa’s relationship with Pep Guardiola. Guardiola could well sanction Gunn’s move to Elland Road if he believes that a year under Bielsa will benefit the young England international.
Gunn could be one of many City youngsters on their way to Elland Road, whilst Bielsa could be knocking on the door at White Hart Lane, looking to use his exceptional relationship with Mauricio Pochettino to lure some of Tottenham’s talent to Elland Road.
Bielsa should not have any problem attracting talent to Elland Road, and if he is given the necessary transfer funds, he will land his targets.
Ultimately, that is what it will come down to at Elland Road now. Bielsa arriving is the start of an exciting project, but the Argentine needs backing in the transfer window so he can reshape the squad he has inherited and get players on board to fit his vision. If they do that, they now have the man in charge to potentially give them the Premier League return they’ve craved for too long.