Why shouldn't Leeds United fans dare to dream in the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa? - David Prutton

Yorkshire Evening Post columnist David Prutton pens his latest thoughts.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 13th February 2021, 6:00 am

Over the course of the season all the noises we have been hearing from Elland Road are that consolidation is the aim; whenever things have been great don’t get high and when they’re difficult don’t get down.

It’s been exactly right.

Leeds are enjoying this first season back in the Premier League and they’re doing phenomenally well. I don’t want to throw things forward too quickly but you have to try and maintain a sense of perspective whilst also enjoying yourself.

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Leeds United celebrate. Pic: Getty

You only have to look at how tough Sheffield United have found it this season – they were knocking on the door of Europe last year and just missed out and now reality has bitten them as they scrap for their lives at the bottom.

It maybe serves as a bit of an example but fair play to Leeds and their fanatical supporters – 16 years is a heck of a long time to be away from the top division and they should quite rightly dare to dream about what can be achieved.

Why not?

This is almost the pay off for the years spent toiling in the doldrums and they should absolutely be enjoying this and waxing lyrical about where they could end up come the end of the season.

I’ve always said that as long as they are in the discussions for a second Premier League campaign then anything after that is a bonus – it’s not being defeatist, unambitious or even pessimistic.

To come back into the top flight after such a long time away and assert yourself in the way and fashion they have done – you can’t be anything other than impressed.

They’ve covered themselves in relative glory, found success, earned plaudits and performed exactly how they want to perform in what has become an idiosyncratic Leeds style and that should be celebrated far and wide.

It was another very, very good performance all round against Crystal Palace and that result avenged the 4-1 defeat down at Selhurst Park from earlier in the season.

Leeds again – like they have done on their best days – looked like a really good, coherent and dynamic team and they will have plenty of confidence heading to Arsenal this weekend.

There were a number of outstanding performances but one I really enjoyed, perhaps away from the limelight, was that of Mateusz Klich.

Having felt like I was hanging on for dear life myself every week throughout my career I have really appreciated his response to being dropped.

Mateusz has done unbelievably well under Marcelo Bielsa; it is remarkable really.

To get to the point where he was essentially the first name on the team sheet and to put together a run of games which neared treble figures in terms of starts was fantastic.

He’s been a really reliable foot soldier in what Bielsa wants and has demanded from his team. It is only natural for a footballer to be at the mercy of form and fitness and maybe he’s found that in the last month or so.

I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination he has been found wanting in the Premier League – but emotionally, physically, mentally and being constantly tested against the best every single week is draining.

The context is that we’re talking about elite athletes in a professional sport and this is their vocation – on a human level, though, it will be exhilarating and extremely challenging for any Leeds player having stepped up from the Championship.

It’s a weekly test of nerves, mental strength, physical output, technical capacity and the spotlight on you is far, far bigger – it’s not really a surprise that you may have a fallow period performance wise and therein lies the challenge of top level football.

Heading into the Arsenal game the pressure feels like it is completely off Leeds, they can go and try to be the very best version of themselves at the Emirates.

There is a nice chasm between the trip to North London last year in the FA Cup and heading there on level terms this time around.

If you look at it at face value then it is a wonderfully matched game.

The two sides have had very different successes in the last two decades but in the here and now Leeds should go into the game with no fear whatsoever – and I’m honestly not sure they ever really do under Bielsa.