Footballers often talk about team success being more important than individual glory, and Mateusz Klich’s 2018-19 was a case in point.
The Polish midfielder had the most prolific campaign of his career, yet Leeds United missed out on promotion, losing their play-off semi-final to Derby County.
Klich had a flying start, scoring six goals before the end of October. He will be hoping two goals against Middlesbrough on Saturday – doubling his 2019-20 tally – pushes him on this term, but is more interested in promotion. “Last season I scored ten,” he said.
“I am not expecting to score more but I am just trying to help my team and it doesn’t really matter who scores the goals.
“I don’t really care as long as we are winning because last season I had the best season of my life, ten goals and nine assists. I would change it for two goals and two assists but playing in the Premier League.”
It is more than just talk.
I am not expecting to score more but I am just trying to help my team and it doesn’t really matter who scores the goals.Mateusz Klich
Klich had the opportunity for a first career hat-trick at the weekend. He scored a crucial goal at the end of the first half when Patrick Bamford’s blocked cross bounced out to him, then a sublime finish in the second. But when Leeds won a free-kick late in the game, he stepped aside. “Kalvin (Phillips) is better with free-kicks,” he reasoned.
Adding to the Whites’s goalscoring threat was the return of Eddie Nketiah, who gives head coach Marcelo Bielsa another option at centre-forward, having had to make do with Patrick Bamford while the on-loan striker recovered from an abdomen injury.
“It is important that we have players who play in a lot of positions, like Pablo Hernandez, (Stuart) Dallas, (Ezgjan) Alioski,” reflected Bielsa. “Also it’s important to have two options in each positions, both at the same level.
“We are happy Eddie has come back, that makes the attack better.”
Leeds are four points better off than after 19 matches of last season and are starting to build momentum after five consecutive wins.
“We have more points than last season so from this point of view it’s better,” said Klich. “But I will let you judge.”
Meanwhile, 19-year-old midfielder Jordan Stevens has signed a contract extension keeping him at Elland Road until 2022.