Promoted teams in profile: Leeds United

By SFC Media time Fri 21 Aug First team
Photo by Getty Images | Leeds United

First up in our look at the three teams promoted to the Premier League are the champions of the Championship, Leeds United.

It’s been 16 long years since Leeds last graced the top flight – a wait that would have been unthinkable when a squad containing Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and James Milner was relegated back in 2003/04.

Things got worse for Leeds before they got better; sinking into League One a year after losing the Championship play-off final to Watford, and it would take three seasons to escape the clutches of the third tier.

But the arrival of the well-travelled and universally respected Marcelo Bielsa as head coach two summers ago sparked renewed optimism at Elland Road.

After narrowly missing out on automatic promotion to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United in 2018/19, Leeds finally held their nerve to win the league by 10 points, playing some thrilling football along the way, as Bielsa proved to be the man to inspire the resurrection.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United watches the play during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Charlton Athletic at Elland Road on July 22, 2020 in Leeds, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
The enigmatic Bielsa sits on a bucket during games and walks four miles to Leeds' training ground every day

 The boss

Marcelo Bielsa was an ambitious target to take the reins at Elland Road in 2018, but Leeds convinced their man not only to take the job, but also stay on for a second season after falling agonisingly short of achieving the club’s dream in his first year.

The man dubbed by Pep Guardiola “the best coach in the world” has a colourful history in the game.

The 65-year-old had managed teams in Argentina, Mexico, Spain, France and Italy before arriving in England, as well as the Argentina and Chile national teams – a period in which he took 13 years out of club football between 1998 and 2011.

After leading Chile to the knockout stages of their first World Cup in 12 years, Bielsa resigned and took over at Athletic Bilbao, where his team were beaten in the finals of the Europa League and Copa del Rey, but earned plaudits for their high-intensity pressing game and attacking style of play.

A two-day spell with Lazio in between stints in France underlines Bielsa’s unpredictability, and eyebrows were raised when he took over a Championship team – even one the size of Leeds – but the man himself was suitably taken by the ethos of the club and the city, and has rewarded its people by bringing back the good times.

Connections

-Southampton have suffered some painful defeats to Leeds, including a 7-0 drubbing at Elland Road back in 1972 and a 4-3 home defeat in 2005 in which the Whites scored all four goals in the final 20 minutes to overturn a three-goal deficit, but Saints have tasted victory in five of the last six league meetings.

-Kelvin Davis famously produced one of Saints’ greatest goalkeeping displays to thwart Leeds on our last league visit to Elland Road, making save after save as he kept a vital clean sheet in a 1-0 win for Saints en route to promotion from the Championship.

-Saints’ number one Alex McCarthy had a loan spell with Leeds in 2011/12. The England international was only there for a month, but still racked up three clean sheets in that time.

Football - Burnley v Leeds United - npower Football League Championship  - Turf Moor - 11/12 - 19/11/11 
Alex McCarthy - Leeds United 
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie 
EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  Please contact your account representative for further details.
Football - Burnley v Leeds United - npower Football League Championship  - Turf Moor - 11/12 - 19/11/11
Alex McCarthy - Leeds United
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie

EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  Please contact your account representative for further details.
A 21-year-old Alex McCarthy keeps goal for Leeds in the Championship back in 2011

-Frazer Richardson, a double promotion winner with Saints, began his career with Leeds, making his debut in the UEFA Cup and later becoming club captain following the club’s relegation to the Championship.

-One of Saints’ finest ever wingers, Rodney Wallace scored 56 goals in 151 appearances before signing for Leeds for £1.6m in 1991. He helped his new club become league champions in his first season.

Head-to-head record

Played 92
Saints 27
Draws 20
Leeds 45

Last three meetings

Oct 2012: Leeds 3-0 Saints (League Cup)
Mar 2012: Leeds 0-1 Saints (Championship)
Aug 2011: Saints 3-1 Leeds (Championship)

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