As a Leeds fan, it’s hard to believe that things are going quite as well as they are. You see, this isn’t normal behaviour up here. We’re used to an erratic Italian sacking coaches for the fun of it & making some rather strange decisions. however, that has changed recently & I will explain why.
Andrea Radrizzani, the founder and Group Chairman of Aser, a global investment company that focuses on the media and sport sectors and founding co-owner of MP & Silva, a company who deal with TV rights around the world. These are companys that we’re built from the ground up and that are now worth an absolute fortune. The Italian, who unlike the previous owner, has well and truly won the trust of the Leeds fans. He has a plan & he’s made some incredible decisions which to be honest, everyone can’t help but love.
Let me point out that, in January 2017, Aser purchased 50% of the club with the option to purchase the remaining 50% at the end of the year. Due to the shambolic operation that Massimo Cellino was running, every single Leeds fan around the world was praying for this to be completed & by May 23rd 2017.
Just the start.
From the off, Andrea had made it clear that he wanted Garry Monk to stay on as Manager of Leeds United FC. Sadly, Garry didn’t see it this way and resigned meaning Leeds had lost a manager the fans loved. Victor Orta, the ex-Middlesborough Director Of Football entered the club, as did Angus Kinnear, the ex-West Ham Managing Director has played a key part in several of the things I’m about to say below.
This is solely my opinion, but sinces Andrea’s arrival the club have gone from strength to strength, he no only signed his intent but has built a solid structure at Leeds United. From the gound up, this is no longer a shambles. This is a proper football club, one that is loved and adored worldwide & that Leeds badge is getting that little bit shinier by the day.
What do you mean we’re signing players?!
This is somewhat of an unfamiliar feeling, we were signing players for actual money. Not strange loan deals like before. The first signing made was a massive one, a player that the fans have truly fell in love with. The one and only, Pontus Jansson. Originally signed on a loan deal from Torino, a £3.5M fee was agreed as part of the terms, but ONLY if he played 22 games. He did with ease & over time, he formed a very convincing partnership with loanee Kyle Bartley.
Unless its a loan, it’s unusual for Leeds to be so active. 9 players have signed & all but one have signed for a fee. I’ll break down the 3 transfers I like below;
Samu Saiz (Huesca) – A product of the Real Madrid Academy, he never really had his chance. After spending time floating around, he ended up at Atletico Madrid where he was sent on loan to Huesca. It appeared that Huesca were keen to sign him & that is exactly what they did. After a standout season last year, Leeds came calling. A fee of £3M was enough to prize him away.
Ezgjan Alioski (Lugano) – I can’t say I know too much about this guy, but from what I have seen, he’s a very hard working player who isn’t afraid to scrap when needed. In the pre-season friendly vs Eibar, he ended up with a goal after some good work from Eunan O’Kane.
Felix Weidwald (Werder Bremen) – Now, this is one that took me by surprise. A player that was the on & off starter for Werder Bremen, signing for only £425K, It sounds like a bargin to me, but I will wait until I see more of him. Either way, with Rob Green being 37 now, a new keeper was a must but it makes me wonder what’ll happen with Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Who’s this guy?
Yes, a familiar sound across Leeds over the past few years. With Cellino bringing in his broken Italians such as Tomasso Bianchi and Bellusci, it was manic. Like then, not much was known about most of our signings but this time, we have a difference! We actually trust the owner and the backroom staff to get things right. One thing that can be said was ‘Who’s that guy?’ was heard several times when Leeds appointed ex APOEL Nicosia manager, Thomas Christansen as Manager.
Well, let me tell you a little bit about him. He was born in Denmark, played for Barcelona and was capped for Spain. ENOUGH SAID. No, but seriously, I think most of the Leeds fans thought it was a bizzare out of the blue appointment but Andrea had clearly done his homework. Yes, he was managing in the Cypriot league with the best team but you cant forget his achivements at Larnaca, who he lead to second place. The first time in the clubs history.
One of the biggest achivements was leading APOEL to the last 16 of the Europa League beating teams like Olympiakos & Atletic Bilbao, which is a massive feat considering the size of APOEL. It’s safe to say that he’s used to a 60 game season which can be played in England.
Christiansen said himself, hes flexible and can use a wide variety of formations which will come in handy as Garry Monk never ever had a plan B. This time, I think it’ll be very different come the first game of the season.
Expectations are high
After the solid start made by Leeds under Garry Monk, before they bottled it and ended up finishing outside the playoffs. It was something you couldn’t make up, I mean we spent nearly the full season in the playoffs, only for us to bottle it at the back end of the season. Things will be different this year…..
By that, I mean the fact that money has been spent. The players that have came in seem to be of some quality, even if they aren’t well know, household names. Players such as Mateusz Klich, who spent time with Twente in the Eredevisie, are the step up that was required. Depth had always been an issue, but will the 9 signings made we aren’t short….. well, in midfield anyway.
Defense is still the part that worries me the most. No defensive signings have been made, on a permenant deal at least. Losing Charlie Taylor was a massive blow, arguably the best left back in the league but after refusing to play in the last game against Wigan, the love that Leeds fans had for him had diminished.
One good thing is, we do have players that can play in a variety of positions. Berardi is by trade a right back, but he filled in at left back when needed and overall, did a solid job. The same could be said for Luke Ayling, another player that could fill in as a centre back when needed, and again, he did a good job of it.
Leeds continue to be linked with players, as always during the transfer window. However, some incredible links are being made….. Alvaro Negredo anyone?
Everyone knows that Victor Orta had a huge part to play in Negredo being at Middlesborough. But, he never exactly set the Premier League alight did he? Chris Wood continues to be linked with a move away & for an incredible price of £20M. Yes, £20M for a striker who has had a single good season.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Wood. But, he’s easily replaceable even if he did score 30 last year. Quality can often come from the lower leagues, Jamie Vardy anyone?