Stars are sensing a bright future at Elland Road
There is a real sense that good times are on the horizon for Leeds United after Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas became the latest key men to pen new deals.
It is less than four months since that the clouds of doom again descended over Elland Road after a 2018-19 season that began full of hope and looked set to bear fruit ended in more pain for the long-suffering Whites’ support.
Marcelo Bielsa arrived in the summer of 2018 and implemented an attractive high-press, attacking brand of football with a large proportion of the squad which spluttered to a mid-table Championship finish the previous season under the guidance of Thomas Christensen and Paul Heckingbottom respectively.
The Whites were sat in the automatic promotion places with just four matches remaining last season but shot themselves in the foot with a shock 2-1 home defeat against ten-man relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
That allowed Sheffield United to sneak into the top-two and they eventually joined champions Norwich in the Premier League.
To add insult to injury, Leeds became the first team to win the away leg of a Championship play-off semi-final and not reach the Wembley final as Derby overturned a one-goal Pride Park deficit in style, triumphing 4-2 at Elland Road.
It was initially feared that Bielsa could walk away and the fans were left in limbo for a good few days after that play-off heartbreak.
But when the well-respected Argentinian confirmed his plan to stay put, it seemed to banish the blues around the club and provided everybody involved with renewed vigor to reach the Premier League after what will be a 16-year absence in 2020.
Pontus Jansson and Kemar Roofe were significant losses in the summer, but fans were boosted with deals to bring in highly-rated defender Ben White and quality attacking talent such as Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa.
Four wins for their opening six matches and an unfortunate defeat to early leaders Swansea before the international break has left Leeds sitting pretty in third spot.
The players are clearly on board to put right the wrongs of last season with Kalvin Phillips the first to put pen-to-paper on a new five-year deal earlier in the week.
The 23-year-old could have pushed for a move to a Premier League club in the summer with Aston Villa reportedly very keen, but he is confident of reaching the big-time with Leeds.
His first words after committing to the club were: “This season we’ve got to be back in the Premier League. The team that we’ve got and the manager we’ve got would be wasted if we fail.”
✍️ | #LUFC are delighted to announce Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas have signed new contracts with the club
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 11, 2019
Fast-forward 48 hours and club captain, Cooper, who was in the Championship and EFL Teams of the Season last term, also agreed a five-year deal.
The Scotland international virtually echoed Phillips as he said: “Everyone has the same aim of promotion and if we can do that, it will be unbelievable for this city.”
Meanwhile, Northern Irishman, Dallas, who has made the right-back berth his own under Bielsa, has agreed a four-year extension, and added: “It has been a journey, at the start we were mid-table, but now it has changed massively, there is something to play for every year and hopefully now we can get what we want.”
After some bleak years, the players are now falling over themselves to commit to Leeds and it won’t be a surprise if Gaetano Berardi, Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich follow suit in the near future.