Marcelo Bielsa’s newly promoted side are famously known for their feuds with several top Premier League teams.
Leeds United have made a grand entrance to Premier League football after a gap of 16 long years. For a club so accomplished, supported and significant in the English football context, they definitely have spent a considerable period of time away from the top-flight.
The appointment of Marcelo Biesla as the manager in 2018 surely erupted a new wave of excitement amongst the followers of the club. There were signals of a revival in his very first year in-charge itself, but a third-place finish compelled them to compete through the playoffs to qualify to the Premier League. Derby County triumphed over the Peacocks in the second leg of the semi-finals and thus prevented them from making their way to the top tier.
Being the tremendously astute, determined and dogged individual that Biesla is, he ensured that the team gained a direct qualification this time around by finishing at the top spot in the table. They did so with some style, spirit and a staunchly purposive attitude that can arguably take the team to greater heights in the first-tier of English football.
Given the historical significance that they possess, Leeds United are not going to be just another newly promoted pushover. Their 100-year-long existence has enabled them to develop rivalries with some notable forces in English football. These are the clubs that boast of a much greater financial might and have an arguably bigger say in the footballing ecosystem. After a long while, Leeds United are going to rub shoulders with some of their long-standing adversaries and Biesla is surely not going to make the tussle any easier for the other party.
It needs to be noted that a few noteworthy opponents of Leeds United like Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Bradford City and Huddersfield Town will not be featuring in the Premier League next season. Accordingly, we have only pondered upon their belligerent combatants whom Biesla’s men will be facing in the league in 2020-21 over here.
First and foremost, the Whites’ rivalry with Manchester United will be under keen scrutiny. It was a match that was widely awaited, viewed and pondered upon in the 1990s as the two clubs share a strife that has been one of the more prominent talking points in English football.
Famously known as the Roses Rivalry or the Pennines derby, the roots of the game between the two entities date as far back as 1455-1487, when a civil war named the war of roses was fought for the English throne between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The Yorks and the Lancasters represented the white and the red roses respectively.
That reflects in the jersey that both these teams don from 1961, with Manchester United being referred to as the ‘Red Devils’ and Leeds being nicknamed ‘The Whites’ by some. The discord was further fueled by the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and the 19th centuries, as both the cities battled it out to attain more investments during this time period.
Naturally, football streamlines the vehemence when grudges are already prevalent between two places. As two clubs emerged and prospered simultaneously from these two cities from the last century and a bit earlier than that, tensions were bound to brew and so it did. There were several phases in the last century where entertaining clashes took place between the two clubs. Right from the 1930 when Leeds claimed a 5-0 victory at Elland Road to Sir Matt Busby’s era when the Old Trafford outfit decimated Leeds by winning eight out of the nine encounters in the mid-1950s.
Several draws were played in the pre- World War II period. There were certain matches in the 1970s including the Reds’ 2-1 victory at Hillsborough in the course of winning the trophy in 1977 that are a remarkable part of the folklore too. Manchester United persistently built up their dominance over Leeds later on, especially during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in the 1990s.
The much-revered contest between the two clubs encountered a halt due to Leeds’ long spell away from the Premiership in the last two decades. Now, the time has arrived to revitalize one of the classic fixtures of English football.
Leeds United must be harboring the prospect of coming up against Chelsea, with whom they developed a feud in the 1960s. The Peacocks were known to be a physically imposing team that plays a very hostile brand of football.
Chelsea matched that approach equally, and the two clubs engaged in some captivating matches in that time period. John King, and English author, described Leeds United as a team that was perceived to play ‘dirty’, whereas the men from Chelsea were the conventional fashionable, wide boys of London.
Don Revie uplifted Leeds United to become a remarkable force in the country whereas Chelsea made several strides ahead under the tutelage of Thomas Docherty. The physical battles in the matches between these two sides were often vicious, with it reaching its peak in the FA Cup final of 1970.
A 2-2 draw was driven by a set of players who firmly resisted conceding even an inch on the field, and it eventually became the first final of the competition to have been replayed since 1912. Chelsea eventually emerged victorious by 2-1 in the rematch at Old Trafford, and the two games have attained an iconic status amongst both set of fans.
The dynamics between Frank Lampard and Marcelo Biesla will be a curious one too, as the Argentine maestro had sent a staff to spy on Lampard’s Derby County when both the teams were battling it out for the promotion from the Championship in 2018-19 campaign. That incident has certainly added new wheels to a renowned contention between two clubs.
Though not traditional rivals, both Leeds United and Liverpool were fierce competitors in the 1960s. Fireworks were a given when Don Revie’s managerial acumen was put up against Bill Shankly’s men.
The two managers used to put their best foot forward in the contests, with the fracas emerging from the FA Cup final of 1965 when Liverpool attained a 2-1 victory against Leeds. An electric atmosphere post the victory at the Wembley ensured that the Whites went back edging to give one back to their opponents in the future.
They actually did so, by claiming the league title in 1974 and had left the current Premier League champions behind in the race. The matches between the two clubs had intensified to the extent of them not dropping the guards even in the FA Charity Shield match of 1974. A severe brawl took place amongst the players, with several of them being involved as the likes of Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan were sent off due to the same.
Numerous interesting matches occurred between the two sides later on, but the sheer animosity that had developed from say the mid-1960s to 1980 was never replicated thereafter. Can Leeds United take on Jurgen Klopp’s rather inimitable Liverpool setup with a similar zealous mentality next season? Only time will tell.
For now, it must be appraised that Leeds United are going to be a formidable opponent to face in the coming months. They are driven by their pursuit of a spot in the Premier League since the past two seasons and are under the tutelage of a manager who has honed them brilliantly on the tactical front to arguably play on equal terms with the best in the business.