David Prutton: Leeds United's frantic week has kick-started Marcelo Bielsa's pre-season
Last week we were really waiting for the summer to kick into gear, not only at Leeds but across Championship in general.
Now at Elland Road it really feels like the squad is starting to take shape.
I’m sure if you’re a fan the signing of Helder Costa got the pulses racing, he’s proven at this level and has been in a side that has got to the Premier League in recent seasons. That cannot be anything but positive – he certainly has the skill to win a game for you in the final third.
The rest of the players that they’ve brought in and the blend they’re going for seems to suggest they’re trying to tick all the bases, not with a scatter gun approach as such but so they’re as forearmed as possible for the challenge ahead.
It seems obvious that they needed fresh blood and reinforcements but then you also have to keep your key players. Kalvin Phillips has been linked with a move away but if you’re attempting to achieve promotion it’s difficult to see how you could justify that sale, especially given his importance to Marcelo Bielsa’s system.
Obviously Jack Clarke has gone to bring in some money but he’s immediately come back on loan. From a Leeds point of view you say well done to the lad and give him a pat on the back but now the real hard work starts for him.
It also feels like Jack Harrison has come back with something to prove and hopefully you get a player who has the bit between his teeth. Like Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal, he’s a player who wants to make sure Leeds fans see the best of him.
The challenge for him now is, first and foremost, to get the shirt but then keep it. A good, full pre-season under Marcelo means that he can get some serious work done.
I was also speaking to Liam Rosenior about Ben White and he was talking in glowing terms. He’s seen him at close quarters in his coaching role at Brighton and the approach of the young man and what he’ll bring to the side in terms of fitting into the system sounds positive.
Any young buck that comes in has to prove himself but they obviously can bring that youthful energy and verve. It’s good for the slightly older players that you get that through the door to give everyone a collective lift.
The pressure is there for the whole team again this season. They’ll be favourites to go up but as we all know they’ll need to handle the pressure and deal with what is in front of them.
Pontus Jansson is obviously another player who appears to be on the verge of leaving. He’s a player who is temperamental but he offers a lot. He offers something Leeds fans can really hold onto – a player with a bit of character and emotion.
I think what comes with that is a double-edged sword and because he’s one of the senior players you do want that emotion and passion but you also have to lead people. They can’t be looking at him thinking he might burst into tears or lose control. Or even go against what the coach says.
One thing we have seen with Marcelo is that you do what he says. You do not go against what he wants. There has been times in games when the emotional side of it has detracted from what he does.
From being in a position as a younger player who was described as hot-headed (and rightly so), the minute you do let your emotions get the better of you, you’re out of the game. Leeds don’t need that this season, they need players to be emotionally mature enough to deal with the pressure.
I have nothing but respect for the way Jansson plays, it is quite something to step onto the pitch looking like you own the place – it genuinely is a real gift. If he does go, he’ll go down as one of the players that really captured the imagination for fans.
Obviously this week Leeds will started their pre-season games and there’s nothing better as a player than getting back out on the pitch in a competitive environment.
Under Marcelo they’ll have been doing a lot of conditioning work. He’ll have wanted them to come back fit but from the outside looking in, Bielsa seems like a micro manager so he’ll want to oversee everything.
He’ll want them to have that match sharpness that we saw for the first two-thirds of the season which really took people by surprise. From a player’s point of view, putting in the work now can only benefit you and it seems gruelling – I don’t envy them at all – but they reaped the rewards of it last season.
Once that tiredness and fatigue goes away, they’ll look and feel immaculate which can only give you confidence looking towards that long-awaited first league game.
It’ll be a tough one at Ashton Gate on the opening day of the season, you know that Bristol City will be up for that game. Lee Johnson always has his side well orginised and as we’ve seen over the years Leeds are always a scalp.
Last season the victory over Stoke City on the opening day really set the tone, I’m sure Marcelo will be looking for the same approach again this year from whoever is lining up.