Joe Urquhart, Football writer at the Yorkshire Evening Post gives us his thoughts and insight on Carlos Corberan’s Under-23s side fantastic season.
Carlos Corberan’s impact at Leeds United has been swift – so much so that the plaudits he is earning have mentioned him in the same breath as a potential Marcelo Bielsa successor.
Andrea Radrizzani’s purchase of the club in May 2017 saw Victor Orta arrive as Sporting Director and he was tasked with leading a rebuild at both senior and youth level.
The Spaniard turned to Corberan for the latter – a coach best known for his six season stint as La Liga side Villarreal’s assistant manager – and the rest, as they say, is history.
An influx of foreign imports followed in the immediate aftermath to fill out a squad barely fit for purpose and by the 35-year-old’s own admission there was too much too soon for his young team as they mustered just three wins from his first 17 games in charge.
Criticism was fierce and it was coming from all angles. A rethink was needed and it came quickly.
Fast forward to the present day and United have secured just their fifth development league title in the club’s history.
A mix of talent acquired and nurtured at the category two academy has rebuilt a ladder between the senior and development ranks.
“We have to give our players the idea that when they do their best they can achieve something positive,” Corberan said of his sides PDL North triumph.
The work that he and his coaching staff have put in over the last twenty months to turn the Under-23s fortunes around has been nothing short of remarkable.
A team lingering at the bottom of the Professional Development League has now swept that very same division aside with ease.
With investment from Orta, tinkering from Marcelo Bielsa and coaching from Corberan it seems a formidable trio has been born.
“I think every success of the club is part of everyone,” Corberan added. “We have to make the link between the people who are are selecting the players who have the skills ready to come and help, contribute and play in the style we want to have because when they arrive in the first-team it is what they must have.”
Bielsa’s impact cannot be overstated either.
The Argentine has welcomed Corberan into his inner circle and given him the role of managing the transition between the senior and youth ranks. A relationship that has flourished.
United’s style of play has been replicated in the Under-23s and it has worked to good effect this season at both levels with Leeds in the thick of a Premier League promotion race.
The likes of Jack Clarke, Jamie Shackleton, Aapo Halme, Leif Davis and Jordan Stevens have all made the leap into Championship action in the full knowledge that they have been prepared as best they can.
“It’s given us that real intensity and quality within our game,” striker Ryan Edmondson stated of Bielsa’s style.
Well, the proof is in the pudding.
Corberan’s staff have successfully readied players for first-team action under their watchful eye and that is where the focus shall and must remain.
Gaps have already been plugged for injured senior stars and Bielsa has opted to promote from within rather than bring in external help, quite the tip of the hat to the work being done.
The PDL North title is just one of the results of success at Thorp Arch but their is a bigger picture for Leeds and they remain steadfast in achieving their goal.
The future is as bright as ever after one of the development sides rainiest of days under just two years ago.