Leeds United Season Preview: Can Leeds finally make Premier League push?

Leeds United have been busy making moves to help them hit the form that kept them in the promotion hunt for the majority of last season. Some moves have been positive, others are yet to be decided with fans of the Whites split on some of incomings and outgoings at the club recently, namely the poor contract offer to fan favourite Garry Monk leading to his resignation.

One piece of news that broke last month that Chris Wood, the Championship’s leading goal-scorer last season, has no intentions of leaving Elland Road, despite being linked with numerous big money moves.

Stability the key

Starting at the top, Leeds seem to be back in a stable situation, something that hasn’t been the case for a long time now. New majority shareholder Andrea Radrizzani didn’t wait long to make changes, buying back Elland Road to much delight and relief to fans after being forced to sell their home down to debts following relegation from the Premier League.

This move has been talked about and almost promised by every previous Leeds owner but, because of one reason or another, nothing has been done following the 2004 sale. ‘Getting their house back’ was one of previous owner Massimo Cellino’s main goals, but his fellow Italian Radrizzani is the one who delivered on the promise quite early into his time at the club. It was all about pride for Whites’ fans who now do have their house back and can look to start rebuilding the good times of the ‘90s and early 2000s.

A busy summer

Before any major incoming's and outgoings could happen on the pitch, one vital position needed to be filled off of it. Garry Monk resigned after wanting a contract with some length. Leeds refused and the popular manager left, going on to join Middlesbrough. The new leadership team at Elland Road went left field with their new appointment, appointing Thomas Christiansen from Cyprus club Apoel Nicosia. The former Denmark international hasn’t held back in signing players, bringing eight new faces.

Mateusz Klich was first to sign for Christiansen, signing a three year deal after joining from FC Twente for an undisclosed fee. Next came Werder Bremen Goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald, also signing a three year deal.

Three players then left the club as Luke Murphy re-joined fellow Championship club Burton on loan after spending the latter half of last season at the Pirelli Stadium. Lewie Coyle signed a new three year contract at the Whites before joining Fleetwood on loan for the season. And then the Charlie Taylor saga finally took a huge step to being over as the full back signed a four year deal with Burnley. However its not quite over as a fee hasn’t been agreed yet as Taylor isn’t 24 years old yet and has let his contract run down and has joined another club upon expiry.

Christiansen continued his busy July with the signing of midfielders Vernon Anita from Newcastle and Samuel Saiz from Huesca. Next to come was striker Caleb Ekuban from Chievo Verona for an undisclosed fee. Despite having played in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League, the 23 year old will likely play back up to Wood this season, unless Christiansen looks to play two up front.

Another forward, Ezgjan Alioski, signed from FC Lugano, before Leeds United and defender Giuseppe Bellusci agreed to terminate the defender’s contract 12 months early, which the club followed up by signing Matthew Pennington from Everton on a season long loan. Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri then left the club for Hellas Verona in Serie A for an undisclosed fee.

Thomas Christiansen has now also added to his backroom staff as Paul Butler has joined as their new assistant coach.

Start to the season could go either way for the Whites

Starting on Sunday 6th August away at newly promoted Bolton Wanderers, Leeds could find themselves flying high or struggling against a spirited Bolton side. This is followed up by a home game in the Carabao Cup against Port Vale before two home league games against Preston North End and Fulham. These two league games will also be extremely tough as Fulham have so far retained much of the squad who beat Leeds to the final playoff spot and Preston are a young side ever improving.

Two away trips follow against Nottingham Forest, who will be looking to improve on recent times seeing them avoid relegation on the final day of last season, and Sunderland who have former Whites favourite Simon Grayson as there new manager and are looking for an immediate return to the top flight.

Leeds United have the talent and facilities to build on last season’s success, however the fate of the club relies on a few things. Can Chris Wood continue the form that bagged him 27 goals in the League last season? Will Thomas Christiansen be able to guide the club back to the big time in what is arguably his biggest job yet? Will the new signings be able to contribute to and improve an already established team? Leeds fans seem torn on all three questions, many predicting the club miss the playoffs again, but there is plenty of promise in the team, so don’t be surprised to see this team succeed during the season.