After losing star striker Chris Wood just a couple of games into the season it seemed as though it could be the start of another tough campaign in the Championship for Leeds. But two months later they are top of the table – having only recently suffered their first defeat – and confidence is high at Elland Road.
It is obviously very early in the season to make bold predictions but can Leeds keep up this good form and make a play for promotion this season? And are they missing Chris Wood at all?
After the chaotic scenes at the club last season, fans were hoping that the news that Andrea Radrizzani had bought out Massimo Cellino and taken 100% control over the club would mean that they could at enjoy a steady start to this campaign. But with Garry Monk leaving for Middlesbrough almost immediately and rumours of Wood’s imminent departure it looked like more of the same at the club with some tipsters making them an outside option for relegation.
A relatively unknown manager, Thomas Christiansen, was brought in, followed by a cavalcade of new signings that suggested that the start of the season would be a period of transition at the very best. Chris Wood’s transfer to Premier League Burnley only seemed to confirm that Leeds would find it tough this year.
But as we approach the end of September this new look Leeds United have performed above expectations and rightfully sit at the top of the league. The new signings have excelled in a way that surely even Thomas Christiansen could never have dreamed – and talk of promotion is once again on the lips of Leeds fans.
A big reason that the side has done so well has been the midfield pairing of Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips. Their hard work has enabled Samu Saiz – a close season signing from Spanish side Huesca – to score six goals already. Considering no one apart from Chris Wood scored more than six goals last season, the fact that a number of other players have popped up on the score sheet as well suggests that the New Zealander has not been missed too much.
Leeds has already played some of the bigger teams in the division and beaten Sunderland, Forest and Birmingham without as much as conceding a goal. In fact, before their defeat away to Millwall, Leeds had not let in a goal since the victory against Bolton on the opening day of the season. If they can keep that form up over the next few weeks they will have played a lot of their promotion rivals and will really start believing that this could be the season.
The Championship season is a long one though and fans and players alike would do well not to get too carried away with what has been a very impressive start. But if they can stay as defensively strong as they have been, while spreading the goals throughout the team, there is no reason why the club cannot stay at the top end of the table going into the New Year.
After the disappointing end to last season where a terrible run of form scuppered any chance of competing in the play-offs, the way the side have started this campaign has taken everyone by surprise. Maybe it is down to the amount of new personnel, but they are definitely not missing last season’s talisman. Who knows how far this side can go?