It might take longer than we thought, but Leeds United are on the cusp of history.
A 16-year exile from the Premier League is well on the way to being over with the Whites seven points clear of the play-off spots with just nine games to go.
Their promotion may not be set in stone, but this certainly represents the best opportunity in a generation to be back where they belong.
Marcelo Bielsa will take many of the plaudits for the work that’s been done over the last two seasons, but one player in particular deserves huge credit for the role he plays for Leeds United.
To say that Patrick Bamford is a divisive figure among the Elland Road fanbase is an understatement.
Don’t get me wrong, no supporter dislikes the 26-year-old – after all, he comes across as an articulate, humble young man who is genuinely appreciative of the position that his talent has put him in.
However, that doesn’t stop him from attracting criticism from fans for what they deem to be an excessive number of chances missed.
Let’s get this straight, 13 goals so far this season with nine games left is certainly not a bad return for a striker – and certainly not enough to get the sort of criticism that Bamford gets.
The frontman has often been made the scapegoat at Elland Road due to the number of chances he misses, especially when results weren’t going the club’s way earlier this year.
According to Wyscout, Bamford hits 37.6% of his shots on target and has an expected goal-rate of 0.51 per game.
Compared with his actual goals-per-game rate of 0.39 and you see where some criticism comes from with supporters expecting the star striker of the Championship’s biggest club to be scoring more goals than he misses.
That’s all well and good, but you have to remember that at no point has Patrick Bamford has never been a prolific striker, nor has he claimed to be.
Bamford’s best-ever season was with Middlesbrough during the 2014-15 campaign when he scored 19 goals in 45 games in all competitions.
That was a decent tally, but when you look deeper you start to spot a similar trend to what we’ve seen during his time at Elland Road.
Those 19 goals included two separate hot streaks where he scored six goals in seven games, meaning that just seven goals were netted by the frontman during the remaining 31 games.
That inconsistent strike rate is something that has stuck with him through his career, giving him the reputation of being the ultimate form-player.
During his time under Aitor Karanka, Bamford was the club’s top goalscorer but it’s also worth noting that he was not an out-and-out striker.
Instead, the then-Chelsea loanee was often used in a sort-of free-role as he used his work rate and intelligent movement to drop into pockets of space surrounding a more natural number nine.
Why is this relevant to Leeds United? Because there’s a real argument for claiming that the role of an out-and-out goalscorer isn’t actually Bamford’s prime position.
The 26-year-old does a wonderful job for Marcelo Bielsa as he leads the line and makes the sorts of runs that free up space for the likes of Pablo Hernandez, Mateusz Klich, Jack Harrison and Helder Costa to work in.
Yes, Bamford is Leeds’ sole striker and yes, he is the club’s top goalscorer this term but his role under Bielsa is about far more than simply putting the ball in the back of the net – something which suits Bamford down to the ground.
13 goals this term is a decent tally, and while many will criticise the fact that he doesn’t convert more chances than he does it’s worth remembering that if Patrick Bamford was scoring 20+ goals every season then he almost certainly wouldn’t be playing in the second tier of English football.
So instead of criticising the one thing that the 26-year-old doesn’t do as often as you’d like, perhaps it’s worth commending him on the role that he does play for Marcelo Bielsa.
After all, he’s a key part of what makes this Leeds United side tick.
He may not be a 30-goal-a-season striker but football’s a team game and as we all know there’s no chance that Marcelo Bielsa would tolerate a maverick-type figure leading his attacking line.
The game’s about so much more than that and the role that Patrick Bamford is playing for Leeds United is absolutely key to the successful brand of football that we’ve all admired during the last two season.
It’s time to cut him some slack and commend the job that he does do, rather than the one that the idealist would want him to do.