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Bamford keen to break ‘vicious circle’ and fire Leeds back to Premier League

Patrick Bamford listens politely, considers the argument, then shakes his head. “I think my injuries have just been bad luck,” he says. “I don’t think it was too intense under Marcelo Bielsa.”

There is a school of thought that Leeds’s much-adored former manager ultimately broke the team’s outstanding striker but Bamford is not a subscriber. “There were times when it was hard under Marcelo,” the 30-year-old acknowledges as he races against the clock to recover from minor knee trouble in time to return to Daniel Farke’s team for Sunday’s Championship playoff final against Southampton. “But, honestly, it was probably the best three and half years I’ve had in football.

“My problems were partly because, trying to help the team, I pushed too hard, came back too early and kept getting setbacks. It was a vicious circle. I was just going round and round, never getting anywhere. Eventually that kind of backfired and I had two really tough years.”

Three years ago Bamford scored 17 goals in 38 Premier League appearances and won an England cap but then those two injury-plagued seasons struck. Undermined by the absence of a forward as important off the ball as on it, a suddenly struggling Leeds United soccer jersey asked Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce to take turns in Bielsa’s old seat but still landed in the Championship last spring.

Farke’s appointment changed the narrative but, despite a finally renascent Bamford scoring nine goals in 19 games before suffering a patella trauma during last month’s 4-3 win at Middlesbrough, they narrowly missed out on automatic promotion.

As Bamford chats amiably amid the deceptive tranquillity of the club’s training ground set amid gently rolling countryside near Wetherby, he relives the frustration of somehow finishing behind Leicester and Ipswich, despite collecting 90 points.

“Fortunately Daniel Farke’s a very level-headed person and an experienced manager,” he says. “He remained calm, we got our heads round it and now I hope Wembley will be a fantastic experience. I think the Premier League would definitely be better with Leeds United Kids soccer jersey kits in it.”

Although Joël Piroe impressed at centre-forward in the playoff semi-final against Norwich and is a very decent finisher, he cannot match Bamford’s defender-discombobulating movement out of possession.

“Playing for Nottingham Forest Under-18s I always remember the academy manager saying: ‘Concentrate on your movement, on getting in behind,’” says the former Chelsea and Middlesbrough striker. “That really stuck with me and I learned a lot from watching Edinson Cavani from his days at Napoli onwards.

“But pressing from the front was one of the things Bielsa brought out in me. In training it was all about changing the tempo quickly and how fast you could get from zero to max speed. Being tall, that’s harder and without Marcelo pushing me I probably wouldn’t have worked on that.

“Even now people still think I’m slow. My running style’s awful but I’m deceptively fast. I don’t think too many defenders will beat me over 30-40 metres.”

Some Leeds fans have never properly appreciated just how good Bamford is and matters reached a nadir when a group turned up outside the house he shares with his partner and small children to complain about a penalty miss last season.

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Bamford keen to break ‘vicious circle’ and fire Leeds back to Premier League

“There’s only so much you can take before you snap and for me that was when it started involving my family,” he says. “I know it’s a small minority but sometimes it’s the small voices that shout the loudest. Social media’s brought a lot of good things but people can be blind to its consequences. They don’t see the hurt and the damage.

“Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve been here six years and I’m still enjoying it. The vast majority of the fans are fantastic. I hope I can show them my best form in the Premier League soccer jersey next season.”

The top tier would be enhanced by the presence of a forward keen to highlight, among other issues, the climate emergency and racism. “I want to raise awareness of the need to look after the planet,” he says as we discuss the “madness” of Newcastle and Tottenham flying to Australia for a post season friendly. “It needs our help. But there’s a lot of things, not just environmental, I’ve spoken up on. If something’s wrong, I’ll say it how it is.”

Bamford’s amalgam of articulate candour, intelligence and, despite a healthy inner confidence, humility, makes it easy to understand why he was offered a Harvard scholarship after leaving private school in Nottingham with not only a raft of GSCE and A-levels but fluency in French and a real aptitude for playing the violin.

During his early days on a series of loans from Chelsea this did not always serve the middle-class architect’s son overly well, prompting clashes with certain older-school managers. Perhaps he was too outspoken?

“Potentially,” says a forward who remains so close to Aitor Karanka he routinely gives his old Boro coach “a big hug” whenever they meet. “It caused me problems with some managers. Sometimes I maybe came across as cocky or arrogant. I wasn’t – it was just that if I saw something as being wrong, I’d speak up regardless.

“It didn’t always put me in the best position but, sometimes, people want to speak up then don’t because they think they’re going to get reprimanded. I don’t believe that’s really the right thing to do.”

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