Originally, Leeds City was the oldest club in Leeds until the end of the First World War. The original club was dissolved because of accounting anomalies. Then followed the formation of Leeds United Football Club or FC. Leeds United is an old North England club based out of West Yorkshire with a bright history. For most of the club’s life, it spent most of its seasons in top-flight and top-division English football. The club is a little over 100 years old. After a period of dominance, Leeds was in a battle for relegation. The club recently earned a promotion to the PL after 16 long seasons. This is the club’s longest run out of the top division. The Yorkshire-based club is currently playing in the Premier League in 2020 and the team looks at home. In fact, Leeds surprised several football fans by not competing for relegation in their first season back. We take a look at the ups, downs, the past, present, and potential future of Leeds United Football Club.
Leeds United’s Past
Leeds has a very colorful past with ups, downs, financial meltdowns, turmoil, and more. When Leeds United was still Leeds City, the club was accused of making payments to players (illegal payments). The club was forced to disband and that gave birth to the Leeds United we know today. We take a deeper look at Leed’s past under Revie, Howard Wilkins, the financial crisis at the club, and leading to the appointment of Marco Bielsa.
1. Revie Era – Under Revie, Leeds United had a lot of success with an FA Cup win, two first division titles, one League Cup, European Cup Winners Cup, etc. In fact, it was around this time that Total Sports Magazine conducted a survey declaring Leeds United as one of the best 50 footballing teams ever.
2. Howard Wilkins Era – Howard was appointed at a time when Leeds were struggling in the second division and fighting a relegation battle. They managed to avoid relegation and qualified to the top division the following season. Leeds managed to win the last division title in 1992. The following season, the top division was renamed the Premier League.
3. 1997 to 2001 – Leeds United never finished outside the top 5 in these seasons cementing themselves as a Premier League giant, although only for a short while. The club also qualified for the Champions League several times and finished as semi-finalists.
4. Financial Crisis – Leeds managed to take out loans on the basis of Champions League rights (which they did not qualify for the following couple of seasons). The club then defaulted on its loans leading to a financial crisis at the club. To pay the loans, the club sold key players to direct rivals. Ken Bates, the former Chelsea owner, bought Leeds for 10 million Pounds. The next 10 years would see Leeds qualify to the Championship and back to the Premier League.
Leeds United is currently managed by the legendary Marco Bielsa. He’s been with the club for 2 seasons. In his first season in charge, Leeds missed out on automatic qualification narrowly. The club lost the knockout game as well. The following 2020 season, Leeds qualified automatically to the Premier League. Qualification came with more than a 10 point margin compared to the team in second. Bielsa’s style of attacking football bodes well for the club as they’ve put in consistent performances in all levels of the game. Leeds play all their home games at Elland Road. The club has done well to establish itself as a mid-table team in their first season back in the Premier League. Most newly promoted teams end up at the bottom of the table in the Premier League. Leeds has even managed to stand its ground against the current big 7 in the Premier League. The club narrowly missing out against Manchester City and featuring in a draw against Arsenal.
Leeds United has made it back to the top League in England. However, they’re going to have to do more to stay there and more importantly, compete at the highest level. Leeds currently has a very good manager and a young crop of players. Some Leeds stars and future stars include Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling, Meslier, Helder Costa, Raphina, Pablo Hernandez, etc. They’d do well to add more names to their ranks.