YEP Jury: Strap in tight for another thrilling ride on ‘El Loco’s Leeds United Rollercoaster’

Bristol City's Tomas Kalas clears under pressure from Leeds United's Tyler Roberts.
Bristol City's Tomas Kalas clears under pressure from Leeds United's Tyler Roberts.
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Our YEP Jury are back for another season and give their thoughts on Leeds United’s opening Sky Bet Championship clash at Bristol City on Sunday.

READ: Adam Forshaw hails Leeds United’s young players

Helder Costa. Picture Tony Johnson.

Helder Costa. Picture Tony Johnson.

DAVID WATKINS

Championship football is back and every Leeds fan can’t wait to find out if Helder Costa can be the difference to push Leeds over the line this time.

Let’s face it, little else has changed! We assume that Ben White is now earmarked to replace our former brick heading Swede but one has to think that had Pontus remained then White would have been at best third in the centre-back pecking order; is he ready for this level?

Pre-season has been hectic and, on the surface at least, not conducive to a solid preparation for the long slog of the Championship.

Patrick Bamford.

Patrick Bamford.

But it looks very much like the team that started in Italy will take the field at Ashton Gate, apart from the suspended Gaetano Berardi who, I assume, will be replaced by Stuart Dallas.

There won’t be too many changes in the Bristol line-up from last season either, with the notable exception that the very able Dan Bentley will likely start in goal following his summer transfer from Brentford.

City are always a tough nut to crack and Lee Johnson revels in pitting his wits against us.

And, with the Robins being an outside bet for promotion, expect a difficult start for the Whites.

Prediction: Bristol City 2 Leeds United 2.

ANDY RHODES

As a fanbase, Leeds United supporters never have been the most optimistic bunch, and with good reason. We all wish we could forget the heartbreak of three short months ago.

May’s events are hard to forget after what many would call a less-than-convincing transfer window, with United not adding the strength in depth so many have cried out for.

Instead, Marcelo Bielsa will stay true to his ways and put his faith in a close-knit group of senior players and promising starlets. Bristol City have done the opposite. The Robins have splashed the cash in their quest for promotion, with marquee signing Tomas Kalas joining in one of several shrewd deals.

Many have tipped City for achieving a play-off spot this campaign so it will be no easy task for the Whites. Fans will be hoping to get a first proper look at what Helder Costa can do, while Jack Harrison showed promise in pre-season.

The bookies have us down as favourites and some of us can’t help but feel optimistic. We never learn, do we?

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Leeds United 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

The last time most of us were in a stadium for a competitive game of football, the sky fell in. I’m not sure if two and a half months is enough to totally come to terms with the tragedy of 2018/19 but we shall find out on Sunday.

For years we have been crying out for consistency and this summer’s major news sees Marcelo Bielsa the first United manager to start consecutive seasons since Simon Grayson in 2011. Likewise, the squad is largely unchanged but for Pontus Jansson’s surprise departure to Brentford and Helder Costa now set to be our most expensive signing since Rio Ferdinand.

All of this should bode well. We’ve seen numerous other clubs bypass us with iterations of esentially the same squad while we’ve thrashed around with a merry-go-round of incompetent managers and rubbish players. Bielsa just needs to solve whatever sold us short last year and we fans urgently need to keep a level head whatever happens in the early season.

Our centenary will be another roller coaster but an opening-day win can settle the nerves.

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Leeds United 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Football is back! The centenary season of this wonderful club is just about to start, we wonder what the next 10 months will bring.

Without doubt there will be twists and turns, days we remember and hopefully not many we forget as soon as we leave the games we go to see. Leeds start their campaign at Bristol City, the two clubs the last to kick off thanks to the Sky ‘overlords’ who dictate the Championship schedule.

There are split opinions on the club’s efforts to improve the squad, Pontus Jansson was sold because he was seen as a ‘bad egg’ who Marcelo Bielsa seemed eager to get out of the squad. Jack Clarke also went to Spurs to bring in some funds to help the club in its battle to keep within FFP rules. He has been loaned back to the club for the 2019/20. Jack Harrison also returned for a second season on loan from Manchester City. Helder Costa was the ‘big’ name that has joined from Wolves, initially on loan but he will join permanently for an estimated £15m next summer.

Is the squad stronger? Myself I think it isn’t and a lot will be expected of the under 23’s who Bielsa sees as ready for promotion to the first team squad. Without doubt there are some good young players but are they ready for a prolonged stint of Championship action only time will tell if his confidence in them is right.

Lee Johnson has added Tomas Kalas this summer for £8m and that itself is quite remarkable considering the size of the club. They just missed out on the top six last season and seem determined to challenge once again. It will probably be most of the players that played last season plus Helder Costa that make up the starting XI. A lot of pressure is on Pat Bamford to deliver the goals after a poor end to the last term. With Kemar Roofe absent for a month, he has the chance to silence the doubters and I hope he does.

A tough game to start the season and a draw won’t be a bad result.

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Leeds United 1.

MIKE GILL

Here we are again, ready for another thrilling ride on ‘El Loco’s Rollercoaster’.

Now that the disappointment of the last few games and the ignominious exit from the playoffs has receded, most fans are looking to the new season with renewed confidence. There are those, of course, who bemoan the lack of signings and mourn the loss of Pontus Jansson but the general consensus is that as long as our head coach, Marcelo Bielsa, is happy with the ins and outs, then we should be also.

Continuity is the buzz word at Elland Road and it’s hard to argue with that as a mantra. To start a second season with the same management team is not just a rarity at Leeds.

Little knowledge was gained from the pre-season games except that the Whites are still struggling to convert the many chances that they create.

Helder Costa looks good, Jack Harrison continues to improve and Pablo Hernandez has been drinking from the fountain of youth again!

Lee Johnson is still making snide remarks and Bristol City will punch above their weight.

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Leeds United 2.

SHAUN SMITH

Just as the nerve tonic had kicked in and the paranoid delusions had subsided, we go again, defence gaping like a hospital gown and our small happy band embarking on a centenary season that might seem like it lasts a hundred years.

The squad looks thin, eight per cent body fat thin and, no doubt, we will make life as difficult as possible at every given opportunity.

We have started already, splitting the squad over two hemispheres and throwing in a jet-lagged friendly against Manchester United as a natural, seamless progression from Guiseley.

Injuries before we start and the annual angst about the imminent departure of any player worth a transfer fee mean at least we don’t get comfortable off tenterhooks.

And off we go to Bristol City with that reassuringly familiar nervous nausea.

That said, we will probably smash it in spite of all this and wipe the floor with teams albeit with a squad of 10 and ‘Brenda the tea lady’.

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Leeds United 3.