Daniel Farke achieves Leeds United first 'since records began' as league-leader status earned

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Leeds United manager Daniel Farke's style of play is not so easy to define but the German has already achieved something Jesse Marsch and Marcelo Bielsa were unable to do following last weekend's Championship victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Farke is not widely considered a high-pressing coach unlike his Elland Road predecessors; much less is he a self-professed one, as some have been. In fact, in the modern era where the footballing vernacular seeks to compartmentalise coaches and players into specific categories and descriptors - long-ball, park-the-bus, heavy-metal-football, and so forth - Farke's style does not come under one specific umbrella.

Despite this, Leeds are currently the Championship's most effective pressing side, at least from a goalscoring and chance creation perspective. Last weekend against Plymouth Argyle, the Whites scored twice after turning over possession in the opponent's defensive third, capitalising quickly. Those who recall Jesse Marsch's 11 months in the Elland Road hotseat will be familiar with the American's preference for winning the ball back high up the pitch in order to produce good-quality attempts and reduce the distance needed to transport the ball to the opponent's goal. Except, the reality Marsch found was, his side were ill-equipped to carry out this specific style, and suffered as a result.

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Farke on the other hand, admittedly in a division below, has Leeds ticking out of possession. According to football data collection experts Opta, Leeds' press is the third-most suffocating in the league, allowing opposition teams the third-fewest passes on average before white shirts make attempts to retrieve the ball. As a result, United have also registered the most shot-ending high turnovers in the division with 33. This means Leeds are winning the ball 'in open play within forty metres of the opponent's goal', and getting shots away, more than any other team in the second tier.

But, what use are shots if not turned into goals? Well, Leeds are joint-top of the Championship table as far as goal-ending high turnovers are concerned, too, alongside Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion with five apiece. Glen Kamara's pressing of Kaine Kesler-Hayden on the edge of Plymouth's box last Saturday directly contributed to the Argyle full-back's miscued clearance landing at the grateful feet of Daniel James 18 yards from goal. Meanwhile, Crysencio Summerville's successful pressure of Julio Pleguezuelo later in the same half led the Dutchman to set up compatriot Joel Piroe for his sixth of the season and Leeds' fifth goal-ending high turnover of the campaign.

In doing so, Leeds became only the second Championship side to score two goals from high turnovers in the same match this season - Sunderland's 5-0 win over Southampton being the other. Perhaps, even more remarkably given Marsch's tenure and that of the man he replaced Marcelo Bielsa, whose high-energy football was championed en route to promotion and a ninth-place Premier League finish, Leeds' two high turnover goals against the Pilgrims was the first occasion since record collection of this particular metric began in 2014/15 that the Whites have scored twice in the same game in this fashion.

While Farke may have achieved something neither Marsch or Bielsa were capable of getting their sides to do, he is yet to mirror their accomplishments of, in the Argentine's case, winning promotion, or keeping the team in the Premier League. The latter is something he was unable to manage twice with Norwich City and remained a bone of contention for the 47-year-old upon sitting down with reporters on July 4 at his Elland Road unveiling, desperately eager for another crack at top flight management in England.

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Lots has changed since the German's arrival, not least personnel at Elland Road, but what the manager has been able to do is put entertainment - and winning - back on the menu. Bielsa's football was sparkling at its best and almost always a spectacle for the neutral, underpinned by relentless running, a suffocating man-to-man pressing structure and never-say-die approach to falling behind. Marsch, albeit less of a roaring success, at least presided over some of the more topsy-turvy encounters in recent memory and a great escape which you could hardly take your eyes off. He, too, took pride in his team's ability to run themselves into the ground. Marsch-ball sputtered, threatening to ignite, but never quite did, while Bielsa-ball worked until it didn't. Farke-ball is in some aspects the same and in others, so very different.

Crucially, the manager has restored that integral winning component to the way in which Leeds play. His style may not so easily be encapsulated in a single word, even if Leeds' two goals at the weekend were the definition of gegenpressing, but after nine wins in 16 league matches, it's inarguable that whatever you want to call it, it works.

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