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Exclusive: Ian Harte assesses the differences between Bielsa’s Leeds United and Reading FC’s title-winning side



Ian Harte holds Leeds United close to his heart after some memorable years at Elland Road. However, the Whites aren’t the only Championship club the Irishman has a strong link with, after he was part of the Reading FC squad to win the division in 2011/12.  

Leeds are the club that nurtured Harte’s talent through their academy and benefitted from the left-back’s best days; a UEFA Cup and Champions League semi-final were reached, with the Yorkshire club challenging right to the top of the Premier League table at the turn of the Millennium.

Right now, Leeds are currently battling to return to the top table of English football after a 16-year absence, with Marcelo Bielsa brining a unique style of play to the Championship, which has left the Whites looking Premier League-ready.

A host of clubs have revelled in Leeds’ struggle to get back to the big-time, including Reading, who have won promotion from the Championship on two separate occasions since the demise of Leeds in 2004.

Harte was part of that Reading squad in 2011/12, when Brian McDermott oversaw an incredible run to the title and the Royals lost just four fixtures from early December onwards.

So, how would that Reading group go on against Marcelo Bielsa’s crop of Leeds players to fight for promotion in back-to-back seasons? Football League World exclusively caught up with Harte, who aimed to give us the answer.

“It’s two completely different sides,” Harte admitted to FLW.

“Leeds are all about passing and possession, keeping the ball. At Reading, we wanted to keep the ball, but we liked to go out and bully teams as well.  

“Jason Roberts when he was up-front, he liked to bully centre-halves; the amount of top, top centre-halves he bullied, then he was quick and could finish.  

“It’d be interesting to see him up against someone like Ben White and Coops (Liam Cooper), Jason was so strong, he could probably fight the two of the lads.  

“Who’s to say, I’m not sure who’d win.”  

The man name-checked, Jason Roberts, arrived at Reading in the winter of the 2011/12 season, going on to score six vitally important goals for McDermott’s side, including one in a 3-1 victory over Southampton on the home straight.

For Leeds’ class of 2019/20, they pride themselves on defensive foundations built around Ben White and Liam Cooper, with the centre-back pair helping to establish one of the Championship’s best defences this season.

Alfie is a journalist based in Yorkshire with years of experience covering the EFL. A current focus on Huddersfield Town and their fortunes back in the Championship, but out and about at as many games as possible. Covered Leeds United during their promotion-winning season in 2019/20.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Exclusive: Ian Harte assesses the differences between Bielsa’s Leeds United and Reading FC’s title-winning side

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