The ‘Leeds’ name brings unjustified expectations

There has been plenty said and written about manager Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds United side already this season, and expectations around the Elland Road outfit have been high.

But having been well-beaten in a handful of their Premier League games and knocked out by League Two outfit Crawley in the FA Cup, are expectations of this side slightly higher than what should be expected?

16 years out of the top tier

For any other side making their first Premier League appearance after a 16-year absence from the top flight, 23 points from their first 17 league games would be seen as a resounding success. Bielsa has continued his football philosophy from the style that helped the Whites win the Championship last season, and it has helped them already surpass the half-way point to that magic 40 point target to avoid the drop.

However, heavy defeats to the likes of Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Tottenham have seen Leeds take their fair share of criticism. All clubs that have been outside of the Premier League for such a long time would expect to take a few hammerings along the way against some of the more established teams in the division. Not many though would see themselves six points off the top four after their first 17 league matches of the campaign. It seems the name ‘Leeds’ and the history and baggage that comes with, has been having a real influence on the way this squad is judged.

Strength in depth paper thin at Elland Road

What the 3-0 shock defeat at Crawley in the FA Cup third round will have highlighted is the lack of depth in the squad at Elland Road. Bielsa put out a mix of youth and experience in his starting lineup, which dominated the first half of the cup encounter. However, once the likes of skipper Liam Cooper and forward Rodrigo were taken off at half-time, the lack of depth at Leeds was there for all to see.

Leeds, who are 5/4 with bet365 in the Premier League betting to finish in the top half of the table, are still getting used to life back in the top flight, and building depth in a squad takes time and stability at the top level. However, should there be long-term injuries to the likes of star striker Patrick Bamford or holding midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Leeds could quickly find themselves in a spot of trouble.

Foundations to build on

While Leeds will have their critics for their sometimes reckless attacking play, they have earned their plaudits for what they have brought to the Premier League this season. Leeds are a side that have got people talking, in a season that already has been so competitive and has provided a host of shock results. Bielsa and his squad are unlikely to pay too much attention to the noise from outside of Elland Road and their training ground Thorp Arch. The players look to be enjoying the challenge of being back in the top flight and testing themselves against the best in the business.

While the name of ‘Leeds’ carries a weight, for the most part, it seems to be a position the players are happy to be in, and one that others will be drawn to in the summer if the Whites can maintain their Premier League status.