Leeds United finally ended their 16-year-long exile from the English top-flight as they will be returning to the Premier League next season. It was one particular Argentine, Marcelo Bielsa, who had an imperative role to play in turning Leeds United’s years of humiliation into jubilation.
Things, as they stand, put the Whites eight points clear at the top with a game left to be played, meaning, the Yorkshire giants handsomely won the Championship title.
However, being promoted to the Premier League is one thing but staying there, in the long run, is something completely different.
That is precisely why newly-promoted teams look to invest a lot to bring in top quality players so that they can sustain the pressure and flourish, and not just wane away.
The effects of a financial crisis, such as the one the world is witnessing at the moment, is, therefore, more deeply felt by a club in the Championship than one in the Premier League.
Championship club Wigan Athletic, in fact, were the first casualty of the post-pandemic financial meltdown, declaring that they have gone into administration. They are set for a 12-point penalty, which in all probability, will relegate them to League One.
Although Leeds United have a similar kind of history to speak of, with the club themselves going into administration back in May 2007, the current owner, Andrea Radrizzani has managed to show maturity in dealing with the finances since taking full control of the club.
However, it is one thing taking the team to the top flight and another to keep them there. There have been a number of instances in recent times when a team earning promotion to the top flight were relegated after just one season.
Norwich City are one of the most recent examples, with Aston Villa showing signs of following suit. It will, therefore, be a challenge for Leeds United to follow the Sheffield United route and make an immediate impact in the Premier League.
But we believe Leeds United have got what it takes to stay in the Premier League for a long time.
The Marcelo Bielsa factor
Veteran Argentine manager, Marcelo Bielsa has been holding the key to the club’s success over the course of the last two years. The club’s director of football, Victor Orta was instrumental in convincing the vastly experienced manager about the project they had visualised at Elland Road.
The appointment turned out to be a masterstroke, with Marcelo Bielsa bringing in his own philosophy into the side and getting the best out of every player.
Although the introduction of the Murderball training programme created problems for the players initially, as they thought that it drained them physically, no one was abject to the ideas of the manager, and it soon began to bear fruit.
Marcelo Bielsa was also guilty of being involved in the infamous ‘Spygate’ scandal, as a part of which he sent an individual to observe Derby County’s training sessions ahead of their game in January 2019. It was later revealed that the Derby game wasn’t an exception.
All these techniques implemented by the very experienced manager prove that he knows the game better than most. The likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino look up to Marcelo Bielsa, who can prove to be the determining factor behind Leeds United’s success in the Premier League next season.
With the money he will have at his disposal, following the club’s promotion, Marcelo Bielsa is expected to use his judgment and bring in players who can truly help in rebuilding the team.
Familiarity with electrifying atmospheres
Elland Road has made a name for itself for being one of the most electrifying stadiums in England.
It has a sitting capacity of around 38,000 which makes it the 12th largest stadium in England, and the second-largest outside the Premier League.
The fans inside Elland Road do their best to make the atmosphere as hostile as possible for the opponents.
This works in favour of Leeds United not just while playing at home, but also even when they are visiting iconic stadiums such as Old Trafford and Anfield.
It prepares them well for the hostility they are likely to face in away Premier League games.
The Middle East link
In October last year, Andrea Radrizzani hinted at a proposed investment from the Middle East, with Qatar Sports Investments being one of the three companies showing interest.
The company, which also owns French outfit Paris St-Germain, is run by Radrizzani’s friend Nasser al-Khelaifi.
In an interview with the Times, the Italian businessman had said that the investment could help Leeds United compete with the likes of Manchester City.
“The option of Qatar Sports Investments and Nasser (al-Khelaifi) – first of all, they are friends, we have had a good relationship for a long time. They have the possibility to bring this club to compete with Manchester City, so for the fans that could be a fantastic opportunity.”Andrea Radrizzani
However, the links seem to have cooled down a bit since the lockdown, with The Athletic journalist, Phil Hay and Leeds Live journalist, Beren Cross both revealing through Q&A sessions that they haven’t heard about anything with regards to the proposed investment.
If indeed the deal goes through though, Leeds United can well go on to become one of the premier forces in the top flight.
At the end of the discussion, it can, therefore, be said that all probabilities suggest that Leeds United are a club that won’t fade away into anonymity if they manage to get promoted to the Premier League.
Radrizzani has spoken about his vision of seeing Leeds United thrive in the Premier League over the course of the next few years
“Over the next five years, we will continue to build a club and an infrastructure capable of succeeding in the world’s most competitive league.”
And there is no reason for the Leeds United fans to think that it is too big an ambition for a club with such a rich history.