Whites support hailed, Kalvin Phillips worry, Pablo's tears and Marcelo Bielsa's brief fulfilled - Leeds United Talking Points
MARCELO Bielsa made his intentions perfectly clear ahead of Leeds United’s last three games.
“It’s not the same to finish ninth winning points in these final three games casually than to finish below the top 10 playing good football.”
The Argentinian’s desire for Leeds to end the season in style was obvious, and not just by winning.
Bielsa knows that football is judged on results but the South American always strives for his sides to impress with how those results are achieved.
Almost a case of results and performances being two different entities.
In the end, as far as United’s final three games were concerned, he got both – the aforementioned ninth-place finish but with nothing casual whatsoever about the manner in achieving that position.
United’s final day display against West Brom was not their best and probably not even in the top half dozen of displays witnessed during the club’s Premier League return.
But that’s only because Leeds have set the bar so high and essentially the Whites once again did what they do best under Bielsa to seal a final day 3-1 victory against the Baggies.
Outgoing West Brom boss Sam Allardyce felt all three of United’s goals could have been avoided and you can see his point. Allardyce also bemoaned his side’s finishing and the Baggies certainly had their chances to net more than once.
The visitors had 14 attempts at goal, five of which were on target.
Quite what the future holds for keeper Kiko Casilla remains to be seen but the Spaniard had another decent game in between the sticks.
But Leeds could and should have netted more than three times themselves with Bielsa’s Whites having 17 attempts at goal and nine on target.
United’s energy in a so-called end of season dead rubber was also just as impressive and there is no denying that Leeds have answered Bielsa’s call by ending the season in style, especially with the 3-1 victory at home to Tottenham still fresh in the memory.
The Spurs success, which was United’s first against a big six side at home, was arguably the performance of the season given the opposition and in the end Leeds have finished just three points and two places below them.
The new Europa Conference League awaits Spurs and good luck with that.
The Whites ended up just two points and one place behind Arsenal and finished ahead of 10th-placed Everton on goal difference. And all of this for a newly-promoted side.
There were several key talking points arising from the season finale against the Baggies, clearly led by the magnificent and emotional send off for Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez.
Not a dry eye in the house as fans finally returned to Elland Road for the first time since March 2020.
Eight thousand but it felt like 80,000 was the comment in BT Sport’s match day commentary and the atmosphere next season will be electric assuming all goes well in the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
It is only hoped that by then Kalvin Phillips has a European Championships under his belt though his injury in second-half stoppage time did not look great.
Everybody associated with Leeds will have everything crossed that the problem is not serious enough to rule him out of England duty and if there is one Whites wish at present it is that.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate will name his squad for the Euros tomorrow and Phillips otherwise looks fairly sure to be in and surely Patrick Bamford has a chance too after taking his tally for the season to 17 goals against West Brom.
Seventeen goals out of 62 netted by his team as a whole meaning an average of around 1.63 per game.
After shoring up the defence in the second half of the season, Leeds also finished with a positive goal difference of plus eight having leaked in 54 goals in 38 games but only 12 in their last 15 matches.
And then there’s the number that matters most, a ninth-place finish for a newly-promoted side who have ended up with a superb tally of 59 points.
Some going, and doing so by fulfilling Bielsa’s brief too.
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Thank you Laura Collins