Leeds United was a major club, until their 2004 relegation. But now, under Bielsa’s guidance, they are nearing a long-awaited Premier League return.
It’s been a long, long time since Leeds United were a Premier League club. A whopping 16 years in fact, which means that newer fans, particularly in the rather large 10-25 age group, likely don’t remember much or even anything of the once-great English club.
Ever since their financial implosion and relegation in 2004, Leeds have spent most of their time in the Championship, although they did have an even worse spell in League One between 2007 and 2010. The last 10 years have been spent patiently and gradually building the team up to reach promotion.
Last season, they were oh so close to achieving their goals, ultimately losing in the playoff semi-finals to Derby County, despite finishing nearly 10 points ahead of the Rams in the league table.
This season, however, Leeds have turned it up a notch, currently sitting at the top of the Championship with 71 points and 9 matches left to play. Although 2nd place West Brom are right on their toes with 70 points, it looks very likely that these 2 clubs will together achieve automatic promotion, as 3rd place Fulham sit 6 points off the pace with 64 points.
The EFL has no official plans for a restart yet, but they have confirmed that if the season is declared void, then Leeds and West Brom would still be granted promotion.
We can now start to let things sink in – Leeds United, who won the English first division the year before it became known as the Premier League in 1992, and who once played in a Champions League final in the mid-’70s, are about to return to their rightful place in the Premier League.
Even in the ’90s and early 2000s, the Peacocks were a force to be reckoned with, finishing in the top 4 for 3 consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2001.
While Marcelo Bielsa has his critics, although he has influenced modern football greatly, he has done a stellar job with Leeds United. In fact, this might be the very best job he has done in his entire career as a champion of the underdog.
If and when Leeds United return to the Premier League, which will almost certainly be next season, they must do all they can to remain there and build their way back up again.
A club with a history such as theirs deserves that, especially after what they’ve dealt with in recent memory. They must keep Marcelo Bielsa around, and find a way to hang onto stars like Luke Ayling, Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper, and Ben White – who are all Premier League-level players.