It’s been a long 12 year road for Leeds, but a return to the Premier League looks closer than ever.
Going by their recent run of misfortunes, fans will be reluctant to get ahead of themselves. It’s been 12 years since their financial collapse which saw them sink to the third tier of English football for the very first time. Their fans are arguably the most die hard in England, and we have certainly missed watching them in the top flight.
We may only be half way through the Championship season, but Leeds’ stellar form currently sees them in a play-off position. The last time they finished in the top half of the Championship table was 2011, only reaching the playoffs once since their fall from grace. Manager Garry Monk has sparked life into the Whites since his appointment in June this year. He has reinvigorated a squad that finished 13th last season, and is only three wins away from equalling their 14 wins from last season.
The young manager has felt the full-force of the cutthroat nature of the Premier League. It’s amazing how quickly things can change, taking Swansea to their highest ever Premier League finish (8th), followed by a run of one win in 11 games the year after, subsequently leading to his sacking.
It takes a lot of courage to take over a club that has recycled through 12 managers in their quest for a Premier League return.
“I wanted a real challenge, Monk told the Daily Mail.
“I don’t want to be safe all the time. If you can take these fans to the Premier League, then wow! Just imagine. They are unbelievably loyal.”
“The ultimate aim is to get Leeds back to the Premier League. It’s the motivation. We are fighting for it.”
Monk strives to keep the same side on the park week in week out. The result? Consistent performances and a tight-knit defence all in sync. The injury plague that has cursed Leeds for so long is starting to fade. Rather their recent dilemma has been a positive for the 37 year old manager. Captain Liam Bridcutt is set to return after a three month spell on the sidelines, whilst his replacement – youngster Kalvin Phillips has been in career best form.
Leading the charge up front is Kiwi Chris Wood. He has been a saviour for the Whites on multiple occasions, scoring 11 goals from 21 appearances so far.
Other than Wood, there really isn’t a second striker capable of performing on the tall talisman’s level. The January transfer window gives Leeds the perfect opportunity to purchase a backup for Wood, (touch-wood he doesn’t get injured).
It’s hard not to miss the famous fixture between Manchester United and Leeds United at Elland Road. A return the the Premier League could also spark a revival of their rivalry with Chelsea.
The race for promotion isn’t a short sprint, it’s a 46 game marathon. Brighton went on a 17 game undefeated run last season, and still fell short of automatic promotion to Middlesbrough on the final day.