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Leeds United

Leeds United: The Dream That Could Die

By Craig Jones. April 8, 2020

On May 15, 2004, Leeds United lost 1-0 at Chelsea courtesy of a 20th minute Jesper Gronkjaer goal. It was the last time the club played a game in the Premier League, just three years since reaching the heady heights of a Champions League semi-final.

With relegation from the top-fight already confirmed two weeks earlier, a group of hopeful away fans sang “We’ll meet again” on the final whistle at a sunny Stamford Bridge. But few could have imagined how long the famous club would spend outside the top division.

We are now coming up to the 16th anniversary of that date, and Leeds are inches away from getting back in the big time. Nine games remain in the season and Marcelo Bielsa’s side sit a point clear of West Brom at the top of the Championship.

But after the Coronavirus crisis forced the EFL to suspend league football on March 19 could this all fade away? Could the Leeds United dream die once again?

Decisions made by the Premier League surrounding how this season will end, if it ends at all, will determine the fate of this club. Anything happening off the field to decide finishing positions is not ideal but may be the only way forward.

Only if the Premier League decides to implement normal promotion and relegation will there be a real chance for Leeds find their way back into the promised land, and that is far from certain to happen.

A Breath-taking Tale – the Season so Far

Leeds came so close to promotion last season. Many will argue they threw away their chance by not landing an automatic promotion spot, but still had the playoffs to go at.

A two-legged defeat to Derby County ended their campaign abruptly and on a very bad note.

How did the team react coming back this season? Did it make them hungry for more or did the wounds of that defeat open and affect their performance.

You don’t have to have seen Leeds too many times this season to know it was definitely the former. Led by former Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford, the Elland Road side came back stronger than ever.

As we stand right now, not knowing when, if or how the season will end, Leeds United are in top spot, seven points clear of third placed Fulham and the playoffs.

The Whites have collected 19 points from their previous nine games. Do that in their last nine and Fulham would need to win all their remaining fixtures to go above Leeds, and that surely won’t happen.

A Mid-Season Blip Not Enough to Derail This Strong Unit

This is a side that has shown strength and resilience in 2020. From the beginning of November through to the middle of December, Leeds won seven games in row. In all, they went 11 unbeaten, keeping a clean sheet in seven of those games.

Then came their poor period. Two wins from 11 games took them into February looking over their shoulders rather than concentrating on the main prize of promotion.

The club was at a crossroads. Would boss Bielsa be able to turn it around, or were we about to watch Leeds fade away from promotion for the second time in two years?

Fortunately for fans, Leeds turned that run of form on its head.

This brings us to the position we are in now. Starting with a 1-0 win at home to Bristol City in February, Leeds have recorded five straight victories.

Each one of those has come with a clean sheet. Leeds haven’t conceded a league goal since February 11. Anyone that questioned their character, fight and bottle needs to simply watch those five games, they will quickly learn otherwise.

What if No More Football is Played This Season?

If you’re asking whether Leeds can get promoted even if the season is voided the answer is almost certainly no. With each tier of the English pyramid joined together by promotion and relegation, whatever decision is made will be a joint one.

Leading this will be those at the top, the Premier League. They will want to have a major say in how things come to an end.

The complexity of the Premier League relegation battle, and what is at stake financially, will force them into a position where they cannot relegate anyone unless more football is played.

Using current standings, Aston Villa would be relegated as they are in 19th. However, with a game in hand to play, win that and they would be out, sending Watford down.

Without Premier League relegation, there is no Championship promotion, and no top-flight for Leeds United.

Marching on Together

Whatever happens this season will undoubtedly shape the future of Leeds as a football club. It could be Manchester City at home to kick off next season, but it could also be Luton away.

Since that final Premier League game in West London, fans of the club have vowed they will eventually make it back to the top flight.

Even in the dark days of League One, where Leeds played between 2006 and 2010, this was something that many people, both fans and neutrals, believed would happen.

Now the club and their supporters up and down the country are within touching distance.

There is no doubt about how much they want it. We’ve seen that passion for years and edging closer has left the fans even more desperate for success.

It could all be taken away in the coming weeks. If that is the case, then there will be great disappointment around the club.

But even if it is Luton away, you can guarantee the away end will be sold out, and fans will start believing once again.