YEP Jury give their final thoughts on Leeds United’s rollercoaster 2018/19 campaign

Leeds United fans show their support during the play-off semi-final second leg against Derby County. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Leeds United fans show their support during the play-off semi-final second leg against Derby County. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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It was a season packed full of highs and lows which ultimately fell just short of the promised land of promotion to the Premier League. Here our fans’ panel look back on on season 2018/19.

SHAUN SMITH

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.

The squad was stretched so tight, every inch asked, pulled beyond endurance and so, in the end, it snapped.

Marcelo Bielsa’s CV will continue to read of burnout but Leeds ran and ran and ran some more. Derby were out on their feet at three each but then Gaetano Berardi snapped. Though no-one is to blame. Samuel Saiz perhaps. A magician who took home his wand and suddenly the team looked bereft of individuals.

Collectively, Leeds were nothing short of brilliant at times, the best side in the league for me but without the best players. This is not a criticism. The opposite in fact, they, nearly to a man, played beyond our, and perhaps their own, expectations. They will be better and better men for the experience.

In only a very few games, Leeds were beaten. Defeats came as United failed to win. Sheffield United smashed and grabbed. Bielsa is about style in a league where it is not necessary to have a philosophy. A win is a win and sides sat and waited for mistakes to happen.

Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez.

Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez.

And as the elastic stretched and stretched, the mistakes came, more and more regularly.

Mistakes can be forgiven but the chronic failure to score at will is what cost us. Bielsa repeatedly pointed to the conversion data as if to say that he had done all he could do.

He could not legislate for the inability to hammer nails into coffins. Kemar Roofe was absent too often to improve as much as the others. Patrick Bamford never got going. Pablo Hernandez was left with too much to do.

The doubts began to take hold and players looked to see who might produce some wizardry. The system was sound but there were players short. The ones who were there did the very best they could and more.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Kalvin Phillips has been magnificent. Liam Cooper, a man castigated by his mistakes, also. There remains the question of where now. Bielsa is not faultless. He is the first to point this out. There is a need for him to compromise, which will be difficult for him but more than that there is a desperate necessity for him to stay.

MIKE GILL

When Marcelo Bielsa chose Leeds (not the other way round) it was a marriage made in heaven.

If anybody ‘got it’ and understood the Leeds ethos it was the man from Rosario.

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring against Derby County.

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring against Derby County.

He ignored conventional wisdom and went his own way. He was the perfect antidote to the cliche-ridden world of the EFL.

Most of his values, notably his reliance on young players were the traditional ideals that many of us were brought up on.

The transformation of Leeds as a club from bottom to top is nothing short of amazing and should endure after he has moved on.

This was a season when we got our pride back.

The quality of the football was unsurpassed as the Argentine Alchemist turned base metals into gold.

The fact that we failed at the final hurdle is almost irrelevant. It took Don Revie three seasons to escape from the ‘cockpit of football’ and it took Wilko two seasons.

Thanks Marcelo and please stay.

Player of the season: Kalvin Phillips.

DAVID WATKINS

Well that’s it then – another season of hope dismantled on a night of almost complete shambles! Leeds United snatching disaster from the jaws of glory for a hundred years!

We had it in our hands and just needed some composure and an hour of quality and we couldn’t bring it to the table. The failings of certain players have been there for all to see all season – and in some cases last season too and they have come back to haunt us in our hour of need.

We now but hope that the love we have shown for Marcelo Bielsa is enough to give him the courage and stamina to do it all again but I’m sure he will demand an assurance that he’ll be given the resources necessary to take this squad up another level – he himself has already said that the players he has are not really up to the task despite him almost performing the miracle of all miracles with them.

I’m not going to name names but we all know the players who have let us down again – the same ones who we have seen do it before. Significant changes will be needed this summer.

Player of the season: Pablo Hernandez.

MATTHEW EVANS

They say the play-offs are a lottery and the game that dumped us out of them on Wednesday evening proved it.

It was unlike any other game we’d seen at Elland Road this season, frenzied, chaotic and totally unpredictable. Only Forest away on New Year’s Day foreshadowed it.

Because of last week’s heartbreak, it’s still too early for me to give a rational verdict on 2018/2019. I can say that I really enjoyed it for the most part and certainly those wins away at Norwich City, Derby County, Sheffield United and Aston Villa before Christmas would be highlights of any season. But two of those sides are in the Premier League now and the other two meet at Wembley in a week’s time. Leeds United is the bridesmaid again.

Promotion was in touching distance this year and, if we repeat our efforts next year, then the reticence to get carried away will never have been more keenly felt. We are many times bitten, permanently shy. These opportunities don’t come along very often, it was our first real crack at promotion for 13 years.

Of course, whatever happens in 2019/2020, we’ll be right there, home and away once again. Our hope now comes from Marcelo Bielsa, a man who improved our league performance by 10 places in his first season. He only needs to go one better next year and we can all finally get what we want. I’m not holding my breath.

Player of the season: Pablo Hernandez.

KEITH INGHAM

The 2018/19 season ends in heartbreak once again for the long suffering Leeds fans, but I’ll not forget the highs that this team we love so much took us to this season. Top at Christmas and looking certain to kick on but it all went ‘belly up’ around February and although there were bright moments in the games against WBA, Millwall at home and Reading and Preston away, it fell around our ears. Defeats that went into double figures didn’t help our cause.

We should have gone up automatically but we didn’t, so the play-offs offered us hope and we started so well away at Derby but it all went terribly wrong at Elland Road and it wasn’t Frank Lampard crying his eyes out, it was us. The pain in my son’s eyes broke my heart as his tears fell down his cheeks. I’ve been there and it hurts and it hurts writing down my last thoughts on the 2018/19 season.

I’ll be back, we’ll all be back because this club is in our blood. Love you Leeds, but goodness me you’ve broken my heart so many times. We march on into our Centenary season still with hope in our hearts that one day we will be promoted.

Player of the season: Kalvin Phillips.

ANDY RHODES

Well, here we are at the end of the line. It wasn’t the end that we dreamed of but it wasn’t half exciting.

In the 14 years I’ve supported Leeds United it’s been arguably my most enjoyable campaign – never before has everything felt so right.

Yes there were some poor performances – Wigan, QPR and Birmingham (2) spring to mind – but they were vastly outnumbered by the memories of Blackburn, Villa and Millwall, among others.

Questions will inevitably be asked about recruitment. Should more have been done in January? Should Kiko Casilla have been dropped towards the end? These things are easy to say in retrospect.

However, the foundations have been laid for Marcelo Bielsa to have a proper crack at the Championship next time round.

While Leeds ultimately weren’t good enough to go up they didn’t deserve to stay down – the emotional image of Victor Orta post-Derby proves that.

On and off the pitch Leeds feels like a proper club again. Bielsa has restored the pride and made us dream again.

Player of the season: Kalvin Phillips.