Hot or not - the YEP awards from Leeds United’s 2018/19 season

Leeds United 2018/19 season awards.
Leeds United 2018/19 season awards.
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It was quite a season for Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa - but who takes home the YEP end-of-season gongs for the 2018/19 campaign?

Two of our dedicated Whites writers hand out their awards - from goal, player and game of the season to the United villain of the year.

(PH - Phil Hay. JU - Joe Urquhart)

Player of the season...

PH: Kalvin Phillips.

It was Phillips with a month of the season to go and Phillips at the end of it after Pablo Hernandez withered when it mattered. A year ago you couldn’t have said what Phillips’ best position was, and neither could he.

Now he looks like the most natural defensive midfielder anywhere in the Championship and a player of significant value. No wonder the earliest transfer rumours are centring on him.

JU: Pablo Hernandez.

A difficult call between the Spaniard and Phillips. Both players have had incredible seasons and their importance in Bielsa’s line-up has been unquestionable but for this decision I’ve taken a leaf out of the Argentine’s way of thinking: attack, attack, attack.

Twelve goals and 12 assists across 41 Championship appearances are simply amazing numbers for Hernandez and his omission from the EFL’s team of the year will remain one of life’s mysteries.

When Pablo ticked, so did Leeds.

Young player of the season...

PH: Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

So much clamour to replace him in January and, at the time, the argument made sense but neither the stats nor Kiko Casilla’s Rachubka-esque night against Derby support the view that Leeds have been better off without him in goal.

Casilla might prove otherwise in the longer term but the reality is that the club were top of the league when Peacock-Farrell lost his place. Casilla failed to complete the jigsaw.

JU: Tyler Roberts.

A fine season for so many of United’s youngsters. Roberts, though, takes this one for me.

At £3m and a near six-month wait for his debut owing to injury, there was a lot of pressure on him to deliver this season.

Three goals and five assists was a solid return for his first year in the Championship, coupled with a transformation from his natural position up front into a number 10 role.

His double against Preston in September sticks out, as does his winning goal at Hull City a month later. There's so much more to come.

Signing of the season...

PH: Patrick Bamford.

Which goes some way to explaining how underwhelming United’s transfer business was.

Bamford was largely unimpressive but still came up with 10 goals in half a season, and who else beats that?

All the same, you are left with the distinct feeling that Leeds’ best signing was the one they didn’t pull off: Daniel James. In a team who finished six points off automatic promotion, he could easily have been the difference.

JU: Patrick Bamford.

Hear me out.

A difficult campaign for the 25-year-old through injury, and with £7m invested Leeds were hoping for big things. But nine league goals in 23 appearances went a long way towards the collective target in the second half of the season.

Despite his all-round game leaving United fans yearning for more, Bamford takes this gong – although that’s probably a sign that the Whites senior recruitment left a lot to be desired in terms of on-field results.

Disappointment of the season...

PH: Kiko Casilla.

Only latterly did Casilla shed the aura he brought with him but his errors had been building and his nightmare in the play-offs was not the hallmark of a former Real Madrid keeper earning in excess of £30,000 a week.

It won’t be easy to come back from a night like that and his performance will follow him around for a while. If he cannot cut out misjudgements so bad, Leeds will need to think seriously about what they do with him.

JU: Izzy Brown.

A weird story from the start.

Initially signed in the summer after a torn ACL in the January prior, Brown was due to be fit in late September for United. He finally emerged in November for the Under-23s before breaking down again until the new year.

Mooted as Samuel Saiz’s replacement, 11 minutes of first-team football tell the story. He promised so much following his role in Huddersfield Town’s promotion to the Premier League but it just didn’t work out here for Brown.

Game of the season...

PH: Aston Villa 2 Leeds United 3; Leeds United 2 Derby County 4.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Villa away, 24 hours after Josh Warrington’s win over Carl Frampton, rounded off a weekend when the city of Leeds came into its own, finished off beautifully by Kemar Roofe’s 95th-minute winner.

But, if we’re being objective about it, did anything eclipse the drama of the play-off semi-final second leg?

The wrong result, a brutal night for Leeds but an incomparable spectacle: six goals, two red cards, one penalty and everything on the line in a second half which many must have been watched through their fingers, and will never want to see again.

JU: Leeds United 4 West Brom 0.

A Liam Cooper header, a Jack Harrison pass and Pablo Hernandez’s right foot. Sixteen seconds was all it took to set Leeds off on a memorable night at Elland Road.

United needed a result to reassert control in the promotion race and there was no better way than to hand out a beating to Albion, a team who did the same to United at The Hawthorns in November.

Two goals from Patrick Bamford and another from Gjanni Alioski handed Bielsa’s side victory on a night where they looked simply unstoppable.

An honourable mention for Aston Villa (away) and Blackburn Rovers (home). What ridiculous games they were. And no good for the heart rate (or either match report).

Goal of the season...

PH: Pablo Hernandez’s first v Millwall.

Purely on the basis of the move which created it and the fact that Marcelo Bielsa’s football is all about scoring goals like that. But really, the list is endless: Roofe away at Villa and his winner at home to Blackburn.

Hernandez scoring after 16 seconds against West Brom and Klich’s pearler at Hillsborough. You could go on. The way the season finished should not mask how exceptional some of it was or the standards Leeds set.

JU: Kemar Roofe v Derby County at the start of the season way back in August.

There are so many that stand out. From Klich’s long-range strike at Sheffield Wednesday to Patrick Bamford’s immediate impact at Bolton Wanderers. And throw in a host of Bielsa-ball team efforts.

But Kemar Roofe’s first at Pride Park last August takes this one.

Alioski floated a ball in from the left and Roofe leapt between two defenders, hanging in the air to power a header past Scott Carson. It was a thing of beauty and a proper centre-forward’s goal.

It also felt like that was the moment Leeds announced they meant business this season, having just been pegged back by a Tom Lawrence free-kick.

Moment of the season...

PH: Roofe’s winner against Blackburn on Boxing Day.

The difference at Villa on December 23 was that Leeds looked like winning the game through the second half. On Boxing Day they were virtually beaten after a 90th-minute free-kick from Charlie Mulgrew.

Roofe found a way to score twice in injury-time and the best gauge of a ridiculous finish is always the dazzled look of a crowd as they leave at the end. No-one at Elland Road looked like they could believe it.

JU: Spygate.

And more specifically, the powerpoint presentation from one of the most innovative coaches of his generation. An incident that caused headlines across the footballing world and an incredible episode to cover from a reporting point of view.

The less said about the fall-out the better, but what a crazy story to unravel – all from a bloke standing on a public footpath with some binoculars.

Surprise of the season...

PH: Norwich City.

Anyone who took in Leeds’ 3-0 win at Carrow Road in August would have put Norwich down for a lower mid-table finish. From there they lost three games, won 26 and took the title by a five-point margin from Sheffield United and an 11-point margin from Leeds.

Like Teemu Pukki and his 29 goals, something somewhere clicked and they were more than worth Premier League football next season.

JU: Bielsa-ball.

Bielsa’s arrival at Elland Road promised a culture change but I’d be lying if I said I expected Leeds to implement his style as quickly as they did.

He took a side who finished 14th in the Championship just a season prior to third in the same division with little help from his summer recruitment and an unprecedented amount of injuries.

Attack, attack, attack, it’s the Bielsa-ball way. What a pleasure to watch and what a pleasure to see that the art of coaching is alive and well.

Villain of the season...

PH: The EFL.

Bielsa was on dodgy ground in the Spygate dispute but a £200,000 fine felt excessive and the process was so loose and fractious that Leeds (according to Angus Kinnear) were asked at the end of it if they wanted to make a formal complaint about the conduct and public comments of other clubs.

On a different note, the general quality of refereeing was shown up by the controlled way in which two select group officials handled Leeds’ play-off semi-final and, as for the mess at Bolton Wanderers, it is coming to something when the prime concern seemed to be the completion of a game of no consequence against Brentford in the last week of the season.

There is a food bank in operation for unpaid staff at Bolton. Quite honestly, who cares about a pointless kickaround?

JU: Ashley Cole. Just kidding. If you know, you know.

There are a few candidates for this one but it’s reserved for the fall-out from Spygate.

The reaction in some sections was, quite frankly, ridiculous. Bielsa was put through the ringer, and unnecessarily so.

Honesty and integrity were two words United said they’d remind him of in their official statement over the incident but he’s a man with more of it that most in the game.

So this award goes to... the hypocrisy of English football. It really is staggering at times.