Pre-season was a real confusion. There wasn’t much of it where our strongest XI shall we say actually played. Fans were questioning why so many youth players were playing.
Welcome to the Championship
Because we had barely seen anything from them it’s fair to say a lot of us had a genuine concern at the prospect of playing Stoke.
Just on the bench, they had the likes of Darren Fletcher, Mame Diouf and even Bojan.
Then the starting XI was something I just thought should be illegal in the Championship. I mean, Jack Butland and Joe Allen in the Championship is just plain wrong.
Unfortunately for Joe Allen, he is still hanging out the back pocket of Mateusz Klich. ‘The Polish Iniesta’ absolutely ran the game and it really did not look like any of the Stoke midfield wanted any part of it.
I suppose the prospect of playing for Stoke is hard enough in the Premier League but it loses even more appeal in the Championship.
Stoke’s problem was they arrived with the ‘we’ll walk this league’ attitude. What they actually got was 34,000 fans on the backs for 90 minutes and a Leeds side that would not let them have any of the ball.
The key player on Sunday who controlled everything was Samu Saiz.
Sexy Samu has had his share of critics from the back end of last season where his performances dropped.
On Sunday, however, he ran rings around the Stoke players like they weren’t even there. He basically proved why he is still, literally, the best player in the world.
Despite the fact we’ve already won the league, as many will suggest going by our fan-base, Samu is the player Leeds need consistently playing well.
The Championship is a disgustingly good league
Play like we did Sunday, 46 times, you get promoted. Simple. Easy.
Every fan in this torrid league pretends they love it. The best away days, I would add cheap away days to that but apparently, that hasn’t decided to reach the EFL yet.
For me, it has a lot of the life and soul of football. There are big teams in this division, ones that everyone knows should replace certain teams in the Premier League. I won’t name names though of course (Burnley).
So, of course, everyone loves this league really. If you don’t force yourself to love The Championship you remember what a gruelling, soul-sucking device that it really is.
The Championship is like a mini-Premier League now. Especially with the money that flies about. I remember being astounded when Blackburn bought Jordan Rhodes for £9 million. Nowadays, you want a good striker, you’re lucky to pay a lot less than that.
You can potentially play almost 20 games more than a Premier League team depending on playoffs and cup runs.
I remember Brighton finishing third one year on like 89/90 points or something ridiculous like that.
Marcelo Bielsa is trying to do a job that no-one else has managed in almost 15 years. Some say if he can’t do it then no-one can. Hard to disagree.