We went into the 2020/21 campaign having sealed Leeds United’s place in the Premier League and enjoying a rise in financial clout as a result.
That allowed us to spend a bit more money to strengthen in the summer. Our main signing was Argentinian winger Rodrigo De Paul, who came in for £9.75 million from Olympique Lyonnais, who’d only signed him the previous season for £12 million.
We also signed young Italian midfielder Mattia Viviani for £13.75 million from Brescia, exciting young centre-back Benoit Badiashile from AS Monaco for just £2.5 million and one of my former Atalanta boys Alessandro Cortinovis also for £2.5 million.
We added extra strentgh with the loan signings of FC Bayern winger Alphonso Davies, Man City defender Eric Garcia and Arsenal utility player Ainsley Maitland-Niles, having previously re-signed Martin Odegaard for another season.
The outgoings saw winger Ezgjan Alioski make way for De Paul and join Newcastle United for £8.5 million. Gary Cahill moved to Parma for £300k, Tyler Roberts went to Sunderland for £4.9 million, right-back Luke Ayling moved to Burnley for £2.1 million with a total of 18 players departing.
A strong start tails off
We got off to a flyer in the new season, going unbeaten in our first six Premier League matches. The opening day saw us win 4-2 at Crystal Palace, with the ever-improving Jamie Shackleton and Jack Clarke scoring before De Paul bagged a brace on his debut.
We then did well to earn a 3-3 draw at Arsenal, with a Patrick Bamford brace in the last seven minutes salvaging a draw, then another high-scoring game saw us beat Southampton 5-3 at home, with Bamford again scoring twice along with goals from Odegaard, Clarke and De Paul.
The goals kept on coming with a 4-0 thumping of West Ham United with Bamford scoring a third double in a row and Clarke and Odegaard both scoring again. Then a 1-1 draw at Swansea City was followed up by a 3-0 win over Huddersfield, in which Clarke, Shackleton and De Paul all got on the scoresheet.
The unbeaten start unsurprisingly ended with a trip to Liverpool, who thrashed us 3-0 and initiated a run of just one win in seven league games and exiting the Carabao Cup at the fourth round stage against Everton.
Things picked up with an undefeated November, in which Bamford bagged another brace in a 2-0 win at Watford then Alejandro Marques and a Kalvin Phillips brace saw us claim a 3-2 win at home to Bournemouth.
December began with a 4-1 battering at Everton, but we bounced back with a superb 1-0 win at home to Manchester City thanks to Cortinovis’ first goal for the club with an 88th minute winner – which also meant we hadn’t conceded in two home games against Man City.
That gave us confidence with two more home games to follow, and we thrashed Crystal Palace 4-1 thanks to a Bamford hat-trick then also beat Chelsea 1-0 with Bamford at it again to see off his former club. We ended 2020 with a 1-1 draw at West Brom, in which Marques rescued a point in the last minute.
Going into the New Year we’d racked up 39 goals in 20 games and only failed to score twice.