Here is a brief analysis of the Leeds squad, their club structure, relationship any potential managers will have with the board, expectations and possible tactics any FM manager can use.
About the club
Leeds United are a team that is from Yorkshire, they are renowned in English football and were one of the consistent performers in the early days of the Premier League. After a tumultuous start to the PL era, they stabilized themselves under David O’Leary, never finishing outside the top 5 even once. It is during this time that they qualified regularly for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup, making it to the semifinals of both competitions.
There is also an infamous incident in Istanbul where 2 Leeds fans were stabbed to death during their Champions League visit to Galatasaray. After unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the Champion’s league in the early 2000’s Leeds were forced to sell their best players, eventually getting relegated in the 2003-2004 season.
The club went into administration in 2007 and sank even further into the 3rd tier of English football. However, since 2010 Leeds are back in the Championship and are knocking on the doors of Premier League promotion. They came really close in the 2018-2019 season when they lost to Derby County in the playoffs.
The Board's Expectations
Leeds were very close to promotion last time and are competing for the promotion this time as well, also you will be replacing Marcelo Bielsa who has done well at the club, the expectations will be to get automatic qualification into the Premier League, the board requirements should be;
- A top 2 league finish (automatic promotion to the Premier League)
- Making the 4th round of the FA cup
- Making the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup.
There will not be any specific philosophies for which you will be judged on, promotion is the main agenda of the board. Having already secured a few key players on loan from the Premier League, the squad is relatively bolstered but there will be a little budget remaining if you want to fill the gaps in a few positions. The wage budget also leaves little room for changes.
For a Championship level club, the club has decent training and youth facilities. However, you will definitely need to work on these if you achieve promotion.
Squad, Formation and Tactical Style
Gegenpress is the best-suited tactic for this Leeds team. They thrive on harrying the opponents and winning possession high up the pitch itself. However, this is also a double-edged sword with fatigue and injuries being a major concern. You can also play a Vertical Tiki-Taka style of football.
A 4-1-4-1 formation is how Leeds line up in real life and it is best if we mimic this approach. This leaves the midfield totally packed enabling the winning of possession high up the field itself and putting pressure on the opponents. Alternatively, you can go for a 3-4-3 formation too but the basic idea behind both the formations is the same with winning back possession and keeping the opponents on the defensive.
A rough example of what your line-up would look like in a 4-1-4-1 formation is as follows,
- Francisco Casilla as a sweeper-keeper
- Liam Cooper & Ben White as the 2 centre backs both played as Ball Playing Defenders.
- Luke Ayling & Douglas as the 2 fullbacks. Both are good attacking fullbacks who can cross well, so increased crossing instructions might help with a few goals
- Kalvin Philips plays as the holding midfielder with Adam Forshaw & Mateusz Klich playing as the other 2 Central Midfielders.
- Pablo Hernandez and Jack Harrison as the 2 wide midfielders, Hernandez is one of the key attacking players for the club and should be given a free role.
- Patrick Bamford as the lone striker in a Centre Forward or Advanced forward role.
Alternatively, when you change to a 3 at the back formation you can get Gaetano Berardi into the XI and play Stuart Dallas as one of the wing-backs.
1. Pablo Hernandez
It is hard to imagine a 34-year-old as the key player but Pablo Hernandez is Leeds’ most attacking threat. His fitness & performances are key to achieving promotion.
2. Patrick Bamford
Bamford was a wunderkind in previous Football Manager versions, the striker has decent finishing and heading skills and represents good quality upfront.
3. Luke Ayling
Ayling is a good consistent RB, he can make crucial goals upfront with his crossing and is an attacking threat with his runs.
- Patrick Bamford is one of the only striker options available that have good quality for the league. An injury to him could see a real goal drought.
- The overall squad depth is also quite average outside the first team where the squad players may not be good enough to achieve the targets of the board.
- Some crucial players in the club are on loan and once their term finishes it will be hard to find good replacements.
Potential Transfers (in)
Leeds are not the best squad in the league with respect to squad depth, these players could be welcome additions to the side.
- Bradley Dack
- Kristoffer Ajer
Potential Transfers (Out)
These players may be surplus to requirements at the club or may not be of the expected quality.
- Ezgjan Alioski
- Stuart Dallas
There are a few exciting young prospects in the ranks who have the potential to be good players in the league, they are;
- Jamie Shackleton (CM)
- Tyler Roberts (ST)
- Jordan Stevens (CM)
FM20 Team Guide - Leeds United
To Summarize, Leeds United are a decent Championship team that have all the ingredients to fight for promotion in FM2020, however, do they have the quality so sustain in the PL once that target is achieved? Can you stabilize the club and take it to its former glory?