Leeds United went into 2020 sitting pretty in eight place in their first season back in the Premier League after a strong run of five wins and a draw through December had catapulted them up the table.
I didn’t see much need to spend in January, instead waiting for the summer when it looked like our finances were going to get a big boost. We brought in Barcelona youngsters Konrad de la Fuente and Alejandro Marques, Sporting Gijon midfielder Jose Gragera and exciting attacking midfielder Armin Djerlek for a combined price of just £1.5 million.
While the only major outgoing saw Samu Saiz, who was largely struggling with the Premier League, move to Cardiff City for a strong haul of £9.75 million.
League form on the decline
The strong December form was quickly forgotten in a fairly disastrous January, which began with a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. More worryingly, we also lost 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion, before going out of the FA Cup in a third round replay at Brighton & Hove Albion. A 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City, salvaged by Kalvin Phillips’ 83rd minute equaliser, was followed by a wholly unsurprising 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
We got back to winning ways with consecutive 3-0 home wins over Southampton and West Ham United, which were sandwiched by a 2-1 loss at Manchester United – who only won with Marcus Rashford’s 89th minute goal.
Three straight defeats followed at Chelsea and Arsenal, unsurprisingly, along with a 2-1 loss at home to Bournemouth, but we bounced back with a 2-0 home win over Burnley thanks to late goals from Phillips and Patrick Bamford.
We rescued a draw in a 3-3 thriller at Newcastle United, then Bamford was the main man as we secured a 1-0 win over Everton that confirmed we had avoided relegation with five games remaining.
We instantly fell apart with a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, but rebounded with a 5-2 thumping of Wolves at home. Javier Pastore (yep!) put them ahead after three minutes, Phillips responded two minutes later, only for Adama Traore to restore their lead. Ezgjan Alioski got us back level again on 25 minutes later and we went in at half-time level at 2-2. But the tide turned with Bamford’s goal in the first minute of the second half, Alioski added his second four minutes later and substitute Marques completed the rout with his first goal for the club.
We went to Man City next and twice took the lead through Bamford and Phillips only for their strikepower to pay off and come out 4-2 victors, with new £76 million signing Marco Asensio getting on the scoresheet.
A 1-1 draw at Derby County followed, before we finished the season in style with a crazy match at relegated Fulham. It was 0-0 after an hour, but then Bamford scored and sparked absolute chaos. Marques came on to bag a brace, Bilal scored his first goal for the club, Mateusz Klich scored a penalty and young midfielder Jamie Shackleton added a sixth in the 95th minute – one of three goals scored in the 90th minute or later.
We finished the season in an impressive 11th position, 23 points clear of relegation after a strong close to the campaign.
Our players also performed well beyond expectations. Bamford’s 14 league goals was only bettered Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero and Marko Arnautovic, while loanee Odegaard finishing with the fifth most assists with 10, only three behind Eden Hazard – and we promptly extended his loan for another season.
Young winger Jack Clarke, who was still only 18, cleared up in our player of the season awards after a fantastic season of eight goals and nine assists showing the huge promise he has.
As predicted, promotion to the Premier League saw a huge surge in financial clout that should hopefully set us up nicely for our second season in the top tier.