The 2015/16 season was a rollercoaster at Leeds United, as so many of them have been. This season, we had managerial changes, play-off promises, player walkouts, fan protests and more scandalous behaviours from the Cellino family. And a review of the fixture list from the past 12 months reveals things were just as crazy on the pitch.
There were stirring victories over play-off sides and, unfortunately, losing streaks that left us all longing for changes. Brilliant performances kept us afloat for awhile, and some games... well we'll never mention them again. But today's the day of the play-off final! Let's battle our emotions by remembering the good times!
Today we'll review five performances which made us proud to be Leeds United supporters this season. If I left any out, please tell us your favorite performances on the pitch in the comments below.
August 29, 2015: Leeds defeat Derby County 2-1
If you’re after the best win of the season, look no further than the first. United went into iPro Stadium (possibly the worst stadium name ever!) and beat a Derby County side that went on to finish inside the top five. This was one of only two victories against play-off sides this campaign (United also completed a victory over Hull City in December).
This was so long ago that Uwe Rosler was still in charge... do we all remember him? In fact, this represented 50% of Rosler’s league victories (I just made myself cry). I remember feeling so optimistic in August after this match.
Our new manager had just defeated a promotion favourite and our shiny new striker won the game with this unstoppable strike in the 88th minute.
In what would become the norm, Wood missed a number of golden opportunities to score, only to make amends with this world class strike. Let’s all watch that goal on repeat and pour one out for Uwe Rosler.
November 7, 2015 - Leeds defeat Huddersfield 3-0
Any Yorkshire Derby victory should be rejoiced but a three-nil victory away from home? We need to recognise that. The best aspect of this match was the speed at which everything changed. After 45 minutes the game was scoreless, but a very generous eight minutes of injury laid the platform for a Leeds United counterpunch.
In the space of 90 seconds, Wood and Mirco Antenucci scored a brace to launch us into a half time lead. And yes, this was back when Antenucci’s name was still mentioned in good terms.
The victory over Huddersfield was one of only two games this year in which we scored three goals away from home. Plus, it was a second consecutive victory with an unchanged starting eleven. It had me dreaming of the play-offs... fun times!
December 17, 2015 - Leeds defeat Wolverhampton 3-2
Can I interest you in an away victory which also happened to be a five goal thriller?
As Johnny correctly mentioned in his game recap, things are never simple at Leeds United. This game was the personification of that. United had a nap for the opening half hour, conceded a goal to Benik Afobe and then finally, Steve Evans stepped in. A nice tactical adjustment to substitute Tom Adeyemi after 30 minutes stimulated the squad and BAM! United went on to score three goals inside 16 minutes.
Souleymane Doukara was superb once inserted into the game and Sam Byram bagged a double in a rare scoring binge. Beyond being a great result, this match day also delivered possibly the best tweet from us during the season. That's a scientific fact. (editor's note: John Horne tweeted this game... he had never seen a soccer match in his life and he's 12 years old)
BYRAM puts the three dimensional circular object into the web!— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) December 17, 2015
March 12, 2016 – Leeds defeat Blackburn 2-1
Victory over Blackburn marked three consecutive triumphs and served as a high point of the season’s purple patch. Better yet, Blackburn were completely dominated by a well organised United squad that had found its feet under the guidance of Steve Evans. Somebody please remind Cellino of this!
Sol Bamba GOAL v Blackburn Rovers #LUFC https://t.co/m8k0PyUVTx— #WALMOT (@WALMOT3) March 12, 2016
Once again, the game’s final ten minutes were typically torturous. After cruising with a two goal lead, we gave up a soft goal in the 89th minute and made injury time feel like a life-threatening experience. On the main, Blackburn hardly threatened all day, and just like our next game, let’s focus on the 80 plus minutes in which United dominated.
April 9, 2016 – Burnley defeat Leeds 1-0
Why is a defeat ranked inside the top five you ask? Well, for 89 minutes against Burnley we largely outplayed the eventual champions away from home. United won the possession battle, took twenty shots, three of which were on target with another two being sitters (we will get to this), and earned eleven corners. But it was all undone by a shocking piece of defending inside the opening sixty seconds.
A good way to describe this game is to give it a 90/10 split. Leeds did 90% of everything well, but the 10% it messed up proved fatal. There were no systematic issues, just brief spats of lazy defending and wasted chances – it still hurts to watch Wood butcher these bad boys.
Chris Wood chance v Burnley #LUFC pic.twitter.com/3R7CBfQwQe— #WALMOT (@WALMOT3) April 9, 2016
Chris Wood chance (Part 2) v Burnley #LUFC pic.twitter.com/VnYDQw2oEg— #WALMOT (@WALMOT3) April 9, 2016
Leeds created the best two chances of the game but couldn’t convert. April 9, 2016 shows proof that a play-off shot is achievable next season, and while it was a loss, it gives me hope for 2016/17.
So that's my top five. Isn't this better than watching Hull and Sheffield play for the Premier League? I think so.
Did I leave any performances out? Let me know in the comments below.