Ian Holloway has stressed that he fears history might repeat itself for Leeds United this season if they don’t add more depth to their squad.
Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Elland Road in the summer of 2018 and instantly transformed the Whites from a mid-table side to strong promotion contenders. The problem that many cited with Bielsa’s approach to the season was his unwillingness to stray from his philosophy throughout the campaign, ultimately leading to Leeds’ dramatic demise in the play-offs.
One of the key alarm bells that many pointed out was Bielsa’s eagerness to keep his squad very light in all areas, essentially having two players for each position, with some lighter than others and being covered by versatile players who can deputise in multiple positions.
This season has seen little change from the Argentine in that department, with Leeds have a dangerously light squad going into the campaign. Injuries haven’t helped this issue and it begs the question of why he would risk operating with such a small squad when he has experienced first-hand how unrelenting the Championship schedule is, especially when at the top end of the table.
In his column in the Mirror, Ian Holloway has highlighted this as the major stumbling block that he fears might haunt Leeds in their hunt for promotion this season. He wrote: “I still think they’ve got the same issues. Eddie Nketiah is really young, but I do like him, and Patrick Bamford is Patrick Bamford.
“Can he get the amount of goals they are going to need? At the moment they are sharing them around which is good. I really like their manager. I do think he is very different and he’s been ahead of his time for years.
“I like the way he’s targeted Leeds with that huge crowd. I like the way he stayed after not doing it last year. But unless he gets a bigger squad I do fear that they might fall away again.
“I hope they don’t because they could really grace that top flight, but they’ve got to earn the right.
“They got so close and couldn’t do it last year but the same question mark is hanging over them – have they got the strength in depth to actually go and do it this time?”
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Holloway is bang-on in his assessment of Leeds’ shortcomings this season as it is clear to see that Leeds are risking running into the same problems as last season already.
The myth around Bielsa’s teams ‘burning out’ has been quashed by the side’s performances late on in the season last year, but it never helps to have a small squad under immense pressure, that will inevitably run into injury crisis.