Where do Leeds United need to improve to avoid another disaster in 2023?

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Last Updated on 9 Jun 2022 6:32 pm (UK Time)

After Leeds eventually stumbled over the finish line on the final day, action needs to be taken to ensure another disastrous season doesn’t occur again. With drama on the final day and their premier league status secured for one more year, progress will need to be made in the summer for substantial growth to be made back up the table.

Signings, Signings, Signings!

A clearly obvious way in which strides can be made is in the upcoming transfer window. Andrea Radrizzani described the season as “painful” while “improvements are needed”, suggesting a shift away from the clubs’ traditional transfer system. Where previously players would need to fit the regime under Marcelo Bielsa, to every minute detail.

Brenden Aaronson is the first one that came through the door, a fee agreed of around £25 million, from Austrian side RB Salzburg. American Aaronson has been previously described as ’aggressive’ by Leeds Head Coach Jesse Marsch, and after a failed attempt in January, this is one which the Leeds fans and board alike will be delighted by.

Rasmus Kristensen then followed, with him supplying comfortable competition for mainstay Luke Ayling (who is set to miss the start of the season through injury). Another deal which had a large influence from Jesse Marsch. Kristensen is another player who developed from his time in Austria. Only time will tell whether these signings turn out to be real quality additions to the Premier League, but signing young players who already have European football under their belt can be seen as a huge boost for Leeds’ aspirations going into the next season. Especially in positions which are crying out for an upgrade.

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The balance as far as Victor Orta and Jesse Marsch are concerned is quantity or quality. With fans hopeful many will come through the doors at Elland Road, adding real quality to a newly developed 4-2-2-2 system, which focuses on playing directly to the goal (something which the current squad aren’t necessarily used to, after the intense training regime that concentrated on the wide play, from the previous coach Marcelo Bielsa.

It will also be interesting to see if there will be any significant outgoings from West Yorkshire, with fan favourites Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha both being subject to interest from clubs currently occupying positions in European competitions, (something which is hard for any player to reject). With no big money exit for any player since promotion two seasons ago, it is inevitable Leeds will have to let some of their quality players leave to showcase their talent.

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Questions will remain for the coming transfer window of who will go and for how much? Something which may have already been answered if relegation was the outcome on the final day. However, with survival secured, Victor Orta and the Leeds board are now able to negotiate, making sure they get the most out of any deals made with opposition clubs.

Structural Change?

There have been vast structural changes in the past few years with investment firm The San Fransisco 49ers Enterprises, seemingly gaining larger shares in the club each season. Whether that continues this coming year remains to be seen, but with a takeover set to be completed by 2024 [The Athletic], fans can be reassured that investment will be there.

A takeover will bring added finances to Elland Road with excitement over future prospects in terms of rising up the Premier League table, after a close scare languishing in the drop-zone at the start of the final day. A smooth transition is likely with the 49ers knowing the club and investing the past few years, something which could a significant advantage to the 49ers and the club, with no contrasting change at board room level.

Tactical Development

Jesse Marsch came to Leeds United with twelve games remaining to save them from despair and relegation. Ultimately this goal was successful, with their status as a Premier League club intact for at least another season. However, Marsch’s tactics have come under question, with some heavy defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea. Where they were also humiliated against Aston Villa in the Americans’ first home game in charge.

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With Marsch’s central focus being directness, with a lack of wide play, it is important that the player buys into this new system, in order for them to be successful next season. It can be said that the players at his disposal simply do not suit this approach with preference being wide play and build up to the goal, something which both players and management may have to come to a compromise over in terms of style of play. One thing for sure is the fact Marsch will be more flexible than his predecessor, especially in games against sides with considerable quality.

We’ll have to wait and see how successful Leeds United are in the coming months, but it is clearly a different direction needs to be taken if they want steady progress and development to be made next season. With the owners, management and players all having a part to play!

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