After last year’s heartbreak, you could perhaps forgive Leeds fans, including myself, for being somewhat apprehensive about our chances this time round.
Even when 11 points separated third place and ourselves there was still a cloud of doubt hanging over Elland Road – and with good reason.
Having seen the gap reduced to a matter of who’s scored the most goals, Leeds United’s chances of promotion to the Premier League are in danger of becoming a play-off lottery following poor results, poor performances and a lack of firepower in front of goal.
Here’s some of the main talking points right now for a club desperate to escape the Championship…
Keeping calm with Casilla
One of the season’s main talking points has been around former Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. His mix up with Liam Cooper against Derby in the play-offs will haunt me for years to come. One of the costliest blunders in our recent history, both mentally and financially.
Unfortunately, his hangover from that day still seems to be causing headaches, for both himself and the Leeds United fans. Glaring errors against Brentford and Wigan have been costly, not to mention goals where he’s been beaten at his near post – a perceived cardinal sin for anyone in between the sticks.
However, with things heading into the business end of the season, it’s important that everyone rallies round Kiko, as he looks to repair broken confidence.
It’s no secret that Marcelo Bielsa will continue to play the Spaniard so it’s important that everyone marches on together. Let’s not forget that Casilla has the most clean sheets in the division.
The need for a greedy goal scorer
When you sit for 90 minutes and watch your team dominate possession and go on wave after wave of attack it’s only natural to expect the outcome to be a goal; eventually.
And much like a pop star, it’s the striker in any side that is expected to lead the way and soak up all the plaudits whilst the reliable backing band serves up a toe-tapping beat.
But as things stand right now, Patrick Bamford is on his umpteenth X Factor audition, hoping each time to make the live final but lacking the right conviction and execution.
With the nearest goal scorer to him, Jack Harrison, on just five goals, supporters of the club are itching to either see Bamford produce the goods or see him replaced by January signing Jean-Kevin Augustin, who is yet to get going in West Yorkshire having been instructed to get up to speed with the rest of Bielsa’s squad.
Assessing the Championship form table as Leeds, West Brom, Fulham and Nottingham Forest among those desperate for promotion
Is Bielsa too stubborn?
This is something that has been doing the rounds on social media for a while now. Have Bielsa’s tactics and approach to team selection become too predictable and in need of a clean slate? The way in which Leeds command games suggests no but the results tell a different story.
It could be as simple as playing January signings Ian Poveda and Jean-Kevin Augustin – two players that are new to the Championship – to give a new impetus, but Marcelo has been clear that all members of the squad need to be at specific fitness levels and have a familiarity of how the team plays.
The longer results become an issue, the longer people wonder whether the famous Argentine needs to change his approach. Only time will tell.
Thomas Bradley is an award-winning football blogger and programme contributor for Leeds United. Find him on Twitter @Radebe_Leeds and @TBradley23