'One of the best players in the Premier League this year' - Former Leeds United defender raves about Whites' season and key man
The proudest thing for me when it comes to Leeds United is not the past, it’s not my era, it’s how well they’re doing now, writes Dom Matteo.
Forget when we were there, the Champions League semi-final and all that, the team we had, it’s all about right now.
We need to give them the congratulations they deserve for the season they’ve had.
They’ve been a breath of fresh air.
How many pundits have said that? It’s not very often Leeds United will receive praise like that, from so many quarters.
It’s probably 20 years since the club has been talked about in such a positive way.
They’ve been a privilege to watch, they’ve had a go. Even when they’ve lost by a few, they haven’t stopped, they just keep going.
Well done to Marcelo Bielsa, all the staff, everyone who has bought into it, all the players.
You look at people like Stuart Dallas, people who get it.
When you get it, at Leeds, there’s something special about it. It’s great to see these players get the credit they deserve.
Dallas has been outstanding, one of the best players in the Premier League this year, there’s no doubt about that. You can talk about all these superstars at other clubs but man-for-man Dallas has been as good as anyone.
Luke Ayling is starting to get the credit he deserves. They’ve adjusted so quickly to the Premier League.
We’re going to get better too, if we keep this group together and add a few to it. We’ve started to get competition for places in certain parts of the pitch – the club captain Liam Cooper is one of four centre-backs Bielsa can choose from and Robin Koch’s performances suggest he can possibly be competition for Kalvin Phillips in defensive midfield.
That’s what you need in a team, the feeling that if you don’t play well or train well, someone could take your place.
We look strong, there are certain areas we need to improve like any team, but there’s a buzz about Leeds.
This season has helped grow the brand around the world. When we went to Australia and China, Leeds were big then, so think about what they can do now, as a brand, especially with the power of social media and the visibility thanks to broadcasting deals.
Clubs like Liverpool have academies and coaches around the world, a presence in far-flung countries and that helps build an absolutely massive support globally.
Leeds can be that, too. They’re a club on the up. The future is looking bright.