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Leeds United November Review: The return of relevance to Elland Road

November saw meaningful football games return to Elland Road. Is this a sign of things to come?

Liverpool v Leeds United - EFL Cup Quarter-Final
Applause earned.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Admit it... you are starting to get excited!

Leeds United finished November sitting fifth in the Championship. We are just days removed from seeing this football club push a European giant to the brink on their home turf. Elland Road is hosting sold out crowds and starting to resemble a cauldron once more. It’s undeniable: things are good for those in White!

So what to make of a month that was low on football but big on impact? In many ways, the month was a resounding success from the moment Ronaldo Vieira scored this belter against Norwich.

United walked into the home of its biggest modern day rival (more on that here), and elevated itself to the top six, thanks to a stoppage-time winner no less. It doesn't get much better than that.

See, the actual results on the pitch are one thing. They are important, no sane person will argue that, but there is something bigger at play here. It’s the way things are unfolding that should give everyone involved with Leeds United hope.

There is method in the madness.

The results don’t always justify the means, and results can be a fickle beast depending on who the footballing Gods decide to favor. November was the greatest evidence of this: United collected three points from their worst performance of the month in Rotherham, while the most resilient 75 minutes of football this club has played under Monk resulted in a Cup exit. Go figure?

I firmly believe November was the best month of Leeds United football since the club returned to the Championship in 2010 (HOT TAKE ALERT!). There is no statistical measure or special winning streak that will back up my my straight fire hyperbole; this is just a feeling I have, and it’s almost entirely intangible and unexplainable.

Three points against Norwich was a great result. Victory over Rotherham was a business trip without Sir Pontus Jansson, nothing more and nothing less. It was a danger game and we banked the three points, enough said. Heck, the players were four days away from playing at Anfield... it’s only fair to expect a let down.

And what about the Newcastle game? Another step in the right direction, as bittersweet as it was. Many will disagree, our Sean Ryan will probably want to fly to Australia and inflict bodily damage on me for saying this, but we cannot be upset at this result, even though no points were earned.

Newcastle aren’t in our class, they deserved victory and they are better than Leeds United. Plain and simple. The sooner we all admit this, the quicker we can focus on the changing in our standing in English football.

And even with that said, if Rob Green doesn’t commit his quarterly howler, or if the referee does his job and awards United a penalty before half time, the result with Newcastle is potentially different. But that’s #ChampionshipLife for you: flounder in the lower divisions at your own peril. One day soon, we will hopefully be able to focus on a game of football without rolling the roulette wheel that is the Leeds United goalkeeper situation.

Monk’s men put forth great effort against the Magpies, and with a bit of luck, could have collected something from the game. Don’t let a defeat to a superior side get you down... and look forward to the rematch in April.

(Side note, for those who missed Sean’s 16 minutes diatribe after the Newcastle game, you must check this out. This is the magic of Elland Road Reports, and a few pints of Guinness perhaps!)

As for the monthly nightcap, how cool was Tuesday night? All felt right with the world once more. Leeds United’s return to Anfield held potential for greatness: a win against a top-notch Liverpool side would announce to the world that Leeds had indeed arrived back on the footballing stage. Johnny wrote this in the wake of Tuesday’s defeat. Funny thing is, he was right without Leeds even realising the win.

United couldn’t slay their EFL Cup goliath, but they definitely forced their return to relevance upon the footballing world. The League Cup quarter final was the Hello World moment for Garry Monk’s Leeds United. It was the night a football club returned to the big time.

This is why I feel November 2016 was a resounding success. Things just feel different. Leeds United are trending upwards in every facet. The Massimo Cellino Death Star is even destined for destruction before Christmas. This can’t be real, can it?

November confirmed everything I have been thinking, but been too scared to say out loud since Monk took over. Our manager has the quality to earn promotion, and some additional talent is the only missing piece.

I actually think it is quite remarkable that United sits fifth in the league after November. A squad with limited attacking options and a howler machine between the pipes has become a bona fide contender for promotion.

But we need to proceed with caution.

This club has shown no ability to deal with success. As the wins mount, so too does the pressure on a playing group which has never achieved what they are aiming for. January is coming and the transfer period not only offers more hope, but a chance for some much need additions to the frontline. James has already started looking over potential transfer targets, because, let’s be honest, we likely still need something more.

Before the chequebooks open in January, the busiest month of the season awaits. December brings the Christmas spirit and six league contests for United to maneuver: Aston Villa (home), Brighton (away), Reading (home), Brentford (home), Preston (away) and Aston Villa (away).

Those six fixtures could make or break the season: win enough, and Leeds becomes an attractive destination in January. Stumble too much and some Italian someone might be looking to sell talent rather than buy it.

But there are strong foundations to build off of, and a busy few weeks await. November saw meaningful football games return to Elland Road: for that, we should be very thankful.

One day, when that magical promotion moment arrives, November 2016 could very well be the month we look back on: the moment in time when Leeds United became truly relevant once more. MOT.

(Editor’s note: Our November TIAT Player of the Month and Reader Player of the Month will be announced next week.)