The strains of ‘Marching on Together’ will ring around the Premier League stadiums next season. Hold on tight everyone because Leeds United are back!
We may have to start the 2020/21 season with crowd restrictions as the world fights to stay on top of coronavirus, but when the hoards are invited back in to the football grounds there will be few more excited than Leeds’ fans.
They have waited 16 long years, taken a drop into the English third tier and watched manager after manager step into and out of the revolving door.
But when all seemed hopeless, Marcelo Bielsa stepped in, who is the former head coach of the Argentina national team.
Detractors scoffed at another madcap appointment at Elland Road. But two years on, he has delivered the coveted prize which is leading Leeds United back to Premier League football.
Promotion at last!
The West Yorkshire sleeping giant has finally awoken and stormed to victory in the Championship, winning the second tier competition by a clear three points.
This is a day that seemed decades away at times.
Since relegation into the Championship in 2004, Leeds have hired and fired 14 managers before Bielsa arrived. And in 2007, they entered administration and League One in the club’s low point.
It’s been a long haul back but the wait is finally over, though Bielsa knows the hard work has just begun.
The Premier League 2020 betting odds will pick out the three promoted teams to feature in the relegation battle.
But while West Brom, and whichever team comes up through the play-offs, will likely be tipped for a bottom three place, Leeds might have more support for a comfortable campaign.
The Whites should take warning from the plight of Aston Villa though. The Villans were fancied to do quite well last season, but escaped by the finest margin on the very last day.
Being a ‘big’ club is no guarantee of safety.
El Loco’s perfect year
Marcelo Bielsa came close to returning Leeds to the Premier League in his first season at Elland Road, but the Whites finished third in 2019.
This season, despite the break in momentum caused by COVID 19, Leeds have stormed to promotion and haven’t been outside the top two since November.
El Loco is his own man and refuses to comply with the expected model of management.
He lives in a small flat near the club’s training ground, walks to work with a backpack containing his notes, and has staff meetings in the local coffee shop.
He looks after his players’ well-being, shipping in a supply of beds at the training ground so that his stars can rest between sessions, and setting up an area with a pool table and a Playstation for relaxation.
And he’s not afraid to upset his opponents. Chelsea manager Frank Lampard had a furious row with him last season, when Lamps was manager of Derby County.
In the run up to a big match between the sides who are both chasing promotion, he accused Bielsa of spying on his training sessions.
Will we see the old or the new Leeds?
Bielsa has built a team with a reputation in the Championship for flair football.
Spanish midfielder Pablo Hernandez has been the standout player again this campaign, picking up his third consecutive player of the season award – making 36 appearances, scoring nine goals and making nine assists.
Wing backs Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas have had superb seasons.
Ayling’s fantastic volley against Huddersfield was voted the goal of the season. Meanwhile, the highly-rated midfielder in Kalvin Phillips has been watched closely by a number of Premier League clubs.
But the club is known by rival fans as ‘Dirty Leeds’, a charge that dates back to their most successful days under legendary manager Don Revie.
So uncompromising was this 1970s team that they were immortalised in the Michael Sheen film ‘The Damned United’. Some of the tackles dished out by hardmen Norman Hunter, Jonny Giles, Billy Bremner and co. would make your eyes water.
Leeds will want to shake off that tag, but Bielsa knows full well that his team needs to be tough to survive. 2019 champions Norwich City amassed 94 points, and they played some lovely football this season in the top flight, but they return to the Championship with a total of 21 points.
Having watched the Premier League 2020 news and updates longingly, the Leeds fans can now live the reality of a long-awaited return to the top flight.
They are looking forward to renewing many old acquaintances, but the fixture they will look out for first will undoubtedly be a meeting with Manchester United.
The two sides have fought a fierce rivalry across the Pennine hills and Leeds’ re-appearance in the Premier League coincides with the Red Devils’ return to the Champions League. Bruno Fernandes’ arrival was the catalyst for Manchester United’s fine finish to the season and Leeds will do well to match the Reds.
It’s a fixture we’ll be all over here at SBOBET too, particularly the Red Devils in our ranks!
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.