2017 has been another crazy year in the life of Leeds United. At the start of the year Massimo Cellino was in charge and there were only rumours of a full takeover from Andrea Radrizzani. As the season drew to a close, curtains fell on the play-offs which had looked like the outcome for a long time, and it was all change in the summer. Leeds United are now very stable off the pitch, and on it we are almost identical to last season in terms of position.
In terms of what we have dealt with over the last decade, the pervious 12 months have been very promising. If you had asked us on January 1st 2017 if we saw Garry Monk out of a job at Leeds, in another job and out of it as well you would wonder what had possibly gone wrong at Elland Road. The answer is nothing. Things off the pitch are as stable as we have seen them since relegation from the Premier League all them years ago and the departure of Garry Monk was a glorious escape, although we didn’t really know that at the time. His attempt to lead the club into the first play-off campaign since League One crashed and burned. Monk had many issues, his failure to acknowledge things weren’t going right was his main one. We played the same team and failed game after game towards the end, the issue with being a Leeds fan is that sue to disastrous times following the club, an upturn like Monk produced, which he did, means we can become blinkered.
What happened at the end of the season wasn’t right, no team should crumble like we did and something was clearly wrong in what Monk was doing. We’ve been able to watch the same man mess up a chance at Middlesbrough that was almost harder to fail. Monk leaving was triggered by the new owner, a quiet Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani had taken over full control of the club and Massimo Cellino had left with little fuss given his time in charge. Personally, no matter what you think it’s hard to say the club didn’t move forward under Cellino. He made us attractive to the likes of Andrea Radrizzani and he had taken over in what was close to another Peter Ridsdale situation with Gulf Finance House in control. Radrizzani quickly got to work, appointing Victor Orta, a Spanish director of football who is now running all matters football. Ivan Bravo has become a crucial member behind the scenes, as has Angus Kinnear, a man who helped West Ham United through some interesting and impressive steps forward in recent years.
Radrizzani has the backing of the fans, no doubt about it. He will learn just like any foreign owner and in that there will be mistakes. He has certainly got back in touch with fans and he has some wonderful ideas for the club both short and long-term. The stadium has been improved here and there and the club are currently working towards a new training ground close to Elland Road. There is one obvious statement from Andrea Radrizzani, he bought back Elland Road, helped by Kinnear who is a master-negotiator in situations like this. Radrizzani bought Elland Road out of nowhere, something that means so much to the fans and city of Leeds. It is the biggest thing that any owner has done for the club since Elland Road was actually sold, and it will never be forgotten. The day Leeds United got it’s home back.
On the pitch Thomas Christiansen was the man, a meeting in Madrid between Christiansen, Orta, Bravo and Radrizzani led to the appointment and he was followed into the club by various backroom staff and then the players began to arrive. Hadi Sacko was the first, for £1.2 million, but he was nowhere near the last. The likes of Samu Saiz was stolen from the grasps of La Liga clubs, just as Macedonian international Ezgjan Alioski was from big clubs as both arrived for over £3 million. Mateusz Klich, Felix Wiedwald, Vurnon Anita, Pawel Cibicki, Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Caleb Ekuban, the list goes on…all arrived. The youth setup has been joined by players from Real Madrid, three from Barcelona, Benfica…the list goes on. We started the season like a side on a mission but thins went pear-shaped, before returning to a more comforting shape and we have hit the new year in 5th place last season and with a huge second half of the season to come. January will be huge, a window that needs to work for us, because the squad needs help.
2017 has been one of the most positive years at Leeds United in a long time. Tomorrow we start the adventure of 2018 and hopefully one better than last year. Have a great night tonight, and we head down to LS11 tomorrow.