Mateusz Klich sets targets at Leeds United with bar set high by best ever year

POLEAXED: Leeds United's Mateusz Klich nets the first part of his brace in the 2-1 win at Rotherham United back in January. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
POLEAXED: Leeds United's Mateusz Klich nets the first part of his brace in the 2-1 win at Rotherham United back in January. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
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KLICH is scoring goals they sang.

The chorus to the Beautiful South hit where ‘it could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome’. You know the one ...

In Mateusz Klich’s case, it is Leeds, ‘20 yards or 30 yards, everywhere we go, 40 yards or 50 yards, Klich is scoring goals’.

Three of them in his first six games, five in his first 14 including one for Poland and 11 for club and country over the course of a memorable campaign.

With a previous season’s best of six goals for FC Twente, the midfielder knows his 2018-19 return has set the bar high.

But the thriving Pole is aiming to repeat or better the dose in 2019-20 only with this time Leeds United also promoted to the Premier League.

Klich would have swapped all of his goals last season for a place in the Premier with Leeds which, for most of the season, looked destined with the Whites flying high in first or second under head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

A far cry to the previous campaign under first Thomas Christiansen and then Paul Heckingbottom though, by the time Heckingbottom had replaced the sacked Christiansen in February, Klich was into his second month away from Leeds at FC Utrecht having been loaned out by Christiansen.

Having been signed the previous summer from Twente, Polish international Klich felt he was never handed a fair chance under Christiansen yet that opportunity was handed to the Pole the following summer by Bielsa and Klich has not looked back since.

Featuring in just four league games previously, Klich was United’s only ever present last season, with the midfielder playing every single league game.

It all meant 4,000 minutes of Championship football and 59 games for club and country. An outstanding 2018-19 now brings with it newfound expectation on Klich for the coming campaign.

But that is pressure the Pole says he can handle with the 29-year-old targeting at least another 46 appearances and 10 goals for Leeds this coming season, without the need for the play-offs.

“Probably most of the people they think that I am going to score maybe more goals than last season,” said Klich.

“But I never scored 10 goals in my life before last season so I have put the bar very high for myself and I will try to play the same like last season because that was the best season of my life, simple as that.

“I learnt that everything that I did before, I can do it faster and with more intensity.

“I did that last season and played every game so I hope this season I will play every game as well.”

Preparations to achieve those objectives are now into their closing stages with Klich and his team-mates put through their final paces of pre-season at Thorp Arch this week ahead of Sunday’s Championship opener at Bristol City.

Klich says Bielsa has once again put his men through another very hard summer but the Pole knew exactly what was coming having experienced something very similar under the South American head coach last year.

“We had double sessions almost every day and I think we are going to be well prepared for the season,” said the Pole.

“Most of the time pre-season is hard and it’s like last season so we knew already what we were going to do. It’s very similar to what we did last season so there were no surprises. It was hard, especially this summer, but we survived!”

Ultimately, though, Leeds eventually failed to survive the demands of trying to achieve promotion and Klich is using both the club’s late fall out of the division’s automatic promotion spots and then play-offs semi-final defeat to Derby County as the ultimate motivation this year.

“It was very long in my head after the last game against Derby,” said Klich.

“I thought about this game and I thought about the whole season very long because we wasted a lot of work that we did and it was our fault and this season I hope we will improve especially the finish of the league because the last month wasn’t good.

“Obviously we would have loved to have finished last season more successful than we did and I would rather change my goals for the promotion but it’s hard to say before the season because the Championship is a very very difficult league.

“I hope we are going to start the same like last season – and then finish the league a little bit better.”