Liam Cooper is confident Leeds United can acclimatise to the rigours of European football because they have prior experience of hectic fixture lists.
The Whites captain appeared on talkSPORT’s GameDay Breakfast [08:30, 10/04/21] before Saturday’s lunchtime clash with Manchester City, and he was asked by Tony Cascarino whether Marcelo Bielsa’s high-intensity style would be able to handle the fixture congestion that European football would bring.
Cooper responded: “Yeah, we were used to that last season in the Championship, the schedule there is just ridiculous, it’s Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday, and that’s what the boys are doing now who play in Europe.
“It’s tough but I think most players will tell you they’d rather play games than train, you love the games, the aura around them is unbelievable, I certainly enjoy games more than I do training.
“And that’s what you live for, you live for those big nights and those big games.”
Whites can cope
Naturally, any step into European football would represent a step-up in the quality of football from the Championship, but Cooper is right to compare the demands of the two.
We were crowned champions of England’s second-tier last season after a mammoth 46 games, a schedule that was made even more intense by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down football for months.
Those unforeseen circumstances didn’t cost us as we ended the seasons strongly to streak 10 points clear of second-placed West Brom.
That was with a relatively ‘limited’ squad that was mainly bred through the lower divisions of the EFL – just imagine the squad Bielsa will have if, and when, we make our way into Europe.
There is still a slim possibility of it this season given we are just seven points off seventh, but realistically it would be a herculean task to achieve this.
A big summer awaits us, however, and if we add stars on a level of Raphinha again, it won’t be long before we break our way into the top spots.
In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay claims popular Whites figure set to depart Elland Road in the summer.