5 Reasons why Leeds can still achieve Premier League dream despite losing Monk
When the story of Leeds United’s 2016/2017 is told in years to come, the tagline will probably read: it was close just not close enough, but we’ll take it. Following a dismal 2015/2016 where poor results led to a bottom half of the table finish, things took a turn for the better last season. A close fought contest against Championship winners Newcastle in March showed Gary Monk’s men had what it takes to mix it with the top teams.
Unfortunately, when all was said and done, Leeds just missed out on a playoff place which is why fans can’t be too disappointed with how the season panned out. However, with Monk resigning and Thomas Christiansen stepped into the mix and is now tasked with taking the team a step further than they went in 2016/2017.
For some, however, the departure of Monk could be the death knell on their chances of making it into the Premier League anytime soon. Is it quite as bleak as that? Well, we think there are five reasons to remain positive if you’re a Leeds United fan this season.
You’ve Still Got Chris Wood
He was the main man last season thanks to 27 goals and there’s no suggestion Wood won’t be able to continue that form into next season. According to his stats, Wood had a shot accuracy of 54% in 2016/2017 which complemented four assists from 3,625 minutes played.
Looking at his goals ratio more closely, Wood scored a goal every 134 minutes which suggests he’s almost capable of a goal a game. With a £20 million price tag hanging over him in a bid to ward off interest from any Premier League clubs, Wood should be around for a while and that can only be good news for Leeds United.
Thomas Christiansen Knows How to Win
OK, so he’s not really proven himself on the world stage, but Christiansen did guide Cypriot club Apoel to the domestic title last season. On top of this, he steered the club into the last 16 of the Europa League. Sure, this isn’t the most impressive record in the game, but he has tasted success in football.
On top of this, he’s a studious man. During his interview at Leeds United, he put on a slick presentation that eventually led to him getting the nod. Is he the next Arsene Wenger? Probably not, be he is a cerebral manager and that could help Leeds break new ground in 2017/2018.
The Bookies Are Optimistic
Looking at the latest football betting markets at Sun Bets offers another glimmer of hope for Leeds fans. Despite a tough away match against Bolton in the opening game of the season the odds makers have made the men from Yorkshire the pre-game favourites.
Although it’s only by a small margin, you can speculate on Leeds and get 8/5 on your money if the result goes the right way. In contrast, Bolton is set at 7/4 while the draw is 11/5. Of course, the odds makers don’t always get it right. However, with the betting lines already flowing in the club’s favour, things aren’t looking too bad for Leeds.
They’ve Found the Team’s Weakness
Something that isn’t great now but does show Leeds is improving is Christiansen’s understanding that the team can’t defend set pieces. It’s long been known that defending corners has been Leeds’ Achilles heel, but Christiansen believes he can fix it. Now, it’s not quite clear how he’s going to fix the leak, but he did call for more intensity following a preseason friendly against Eibar.
Telling the players that their efforts and concentration “weren’t enough”, Christiansen is now looking to push his team to fulfil their potential. Although he may still face an uphill struggle with regards to corners, at least he’s acknowledge the issue and that’s the first step towards redemption.
Fresh Blood Could be Forthcoming
Every new manager has to at least attempt to make some moves in the transfer market and Christiansen has done his fair share of speculating so far. In addition to bringing in Ergjan Alioski, Samuel Saiz Alonso, Matthew Pennington and Vurnon Anita, Jackson Irvine is now on the hit list.
The Burton Albion midfielder made a huge impression on the Pirelli Stadium faithful last season and even managed to sit among the club’s top goal scorers from a midfield position. Although Albion is reluctant to sell the Aussie, he’s clearly an emerging talent in the Championship and now could be the time for Leeds to snap him up.
With his energy, youth and obvious eye for goal, Irvine could be just the player Leeds need to help Wood flourish and make the Premier League a reality. If this happens and the fans can remain optimistic, then Leeds could still achieve their Premier League dream at the close of next season.