While Leeds may have narrowly missed out on the playoffs this season, their campaign wasn’t a total disaster. Here’s 5 reasons why:
The man, the Monk, the legend
It seems the curse of the managerial role at Elland Road has finally been banished, with Garry Monk the man for the job. Monk is Leeds’ sixth manager since 2014 and has transformed them from a mid-table side into promotion contenders. While the playing style has improved, the togetherness of the side is the big difference. They enjoy playing together and actually look like a team instead of a group of individuals, a stark contrast from past seasons.
Just this time last year, Leeds fans dreaded the thought of Chris Wood leading the line for another season, as was his inconsistency in 2015/16. But under Monk, the Kiwi striker has flourished, finishing the season with 27 league goals. He managed to stay consistent throughout, with his strength in the air and clinical finishing proving vital. A repeat campaign next season could ignite Leeds’ promotion push.
The Spanish wizard
Much of Wood’s success is down to the players behind him, not least attacking midfielder Pablo Hernandez. The Spaniard originally signed on loan, before penning a permanent deal in January. He added a certain creative flair that the whites have missed in recent years, while his composure on the ball was a sight for Leeds fans’ sore eyes. At 32-years-old he’s no spring chicken, but is still a vital cog in United’s wheel.
Leeds fans love a cult hero. Names such as Vinnie Jones and Lucas Radebe spring to mind. But this year, Swedish centre back Pontus Jansson brought an air of nostalgia to Elland Road and didn’t fans love him for it. His aggressive, no-nonsense style was a reminder of the glory days, when the likes of Billy Bremner and Norman ‘bites your legs’ Hunter dominated the old Division 1 competition. If this season is anything to go by, Jansson has a bright future in West Yorkshire.
Buy of the season
I, like plenty of other Leeds fans, was pretty optimistic when the club signed Bristol City defender Luke Ayling. But what a signing he turned out to be. He came for just £700,000, which in hindsight is an absolute steal given how well he’s played. He has great composure on the ball, while he isn’t afraid to bomb forward and offer himself as an attacking option – something Leeds have been lacking for a while on the right side