Leeds United’s Premier League Return Has Been a MASSIVE Disappointment (To all But Those Who Matter) – by Rob Atkinson


At the start of the Premier League campaign so recently completed, one of the big issues for discussion and debate was: how will Leeds United, 16 years exiled from the elite, fare on their long-delayed return? The battle lines were drawn, with Leeds haters, wishful thinkers, embittered ex-pros and various other pond life on one side – and Those Who Matter on the other.

The views were starkly polarised. For the various factions who, for one reason or another, wished Yorkshire’s only giant club nothing but misery, there was a fairly unanimous feeling that United’s tenure in the top flight would last for three seasons: autumn, winter and spring. The predicted final tables from back then make for amusing reading now, with Leeds appearing in many forecast bottom threes and with the likes of the previous season’s miracle club Sheffield Utd going from strength to strength.

My own forays into social media at this time were seen as baselessly optimistic, bordering on drug-fuelled delusion. One Arsenal fan of tender years, and even tenderer grey matter, could not believe that I refused to accept United’s inevitable fate with meek submissiveness. The poor lad got quite hot under the collar at my refusal to acquiesce, and eventually blocked me in a fit of outraged pique, promising to re-establish contact around Easter, when our fate was sealed. Still waiting on that one.

Then there was the Brighton fan who was so sure that we’d zero chance of survival without Ben White, condescendingly explaining as if to a child that sadly no deal was possible as we’d be direct rivals in the struggle against the drop. Haven’t heard from him lately, either.

On the other side of the coin, the optimism and positivity that characterised the online output from Premier League betting sites and many prolific Leeds writers must have seemed mere bravado to the uninitiated. But we’d just witnessed two miraculous seasons in the Championship during which we’d proved we were the best outside the game’s elite. In the first season, we suffered a late attack of stage fright, and failed to get over the line – but in the second, we walked the league by ten points, to a background of wailing, gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair from the anti-Leeds fraternity who were witnessing their worst nightmare come true. They’d forecast another late season blow up and the departure of Marcelo Bielsa back to the Argentine, tail between legs. But we knew better – we knew that Bielsa is God incarnate, brought to God’s own county to return the chosen people to the Promised Land. So mote it be.

And thus it has come to pass, with yet more amusement in store for us as the haters refused to let the evidence of their own eyes divert them from their predictions of misery falling upon Elland Road. Karen Carney brought the undeserved ridicule of unreconstructed misogynists down upon the heads of female football pundits, with her silly theory that Leeds’s promotion was down to the COVID break. But this was never about gender – male pundits game out with theories just as daft if not dafter, proclaiming that Bielsa was a myth (Gabby “Gobby” Agbonlahor) and other exercises in mental frailty and lack of perspicacity from the likes of Andy Hinchliffe, Kris Boyd et al.

Overall, opinion has remained polarised. There was early encouragement for the nay-sayers when results were poor during a spell where Leeds were deprived by injury of the international defenders they’d signed in lieu of poor Ben White. That chorus of “we told you so” turned sulkily quiet with the emergence of Pascal Strujik and the recovery of Diego Llorente. Since those two were deployed in harness, United’s defensive performance has improved markedly, with Sky’s beloved graphic highlighting Leeds’s weakness from set pieces becoming more redundant with every passing week.

In the last ten games of the season (over a quarter of the campaign, let’s not forget), Leeds were second only to a resurgent not to say desperate Liverpool in the form table, and came within a short head of challenging for some form of European qualification – a “failure” which may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise. But that late season charge, unaided by any COVID break (sorry, Karen) has surely dispelled another myth beloved of Leeds-haters, the oft-mooted “Bielsa Burnout”. Sorry, lads (and lasses), but – like so many of your pet theories – the burnout was just so much pie in the sky, meaning you’ve had to gorge on the humble variety instead.

So, what of the future? Inevitably, there will be departures, and we’ve already bid a tearful farewell to two of our favourite sons in the Lion and the Magician. Thank you, thank you to Gaetano and Pablo, your legend status is secure and you’ll never be forgotten. Success elsewhere, lads, but you’ll always be welcome home anytime. There will inevitably be additions over the summer, and we’ve learned to trust the judgement and acumen of Victor Orta. He won’t let us down – and of course Marcelo Bielsa, or “God” as he’s fondly known hereabouts, will continue the biggest and best project of his incredible life.

I foresee more progress, a clear path ahead to establishment as a giant amongst the elites as Marcelo continues to build his legacy, and not least of all, more bitter disappointment for those whose happiness is entirely dependent on Leeds failing and falling. Let it be.

Marching On Together

14 responses to “Leeds United’s Premier League Return Has Been a MASSIVE Disappointment (To all But Those Who Matter) – by Rob Atkinson

  1. howard mackey

    Good article Rob you have got to feel sorry for doubters though.
    All the best ,H.


  2. Wise words as always Rob. Onwards and upwards! MOT


  3. Excellent synopsis of those who wish us all the ills of the world being proven wrong. I expect they will say the same again next season but wouldn’t it be wonderful to finish higher next year and make them eat humble pie again. MOT


  4. andrew hinks

    wonderfully precise piece rob!

    to all the above mentioned doubters, doom mongers & the mentally challenged + bearded bimbo carney!

    “you can’t educate pork!



  5. Life is LUFC

    Really good article Rob.
    With the training regime MB delivers and the lads devouring it like a good old Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud dinner, for desserts add a great big dollop of Leeds bashing from the bash street kids (pundits, and the usual haters of the club). What further motive is required to stick two fingers up at the lot of them.
    We who know, know and who cares about those uneducated morons. ALAW


  6. Steve John Emsley

    we have a manager who not just loves football he knows how to play the game just how it should be played, each and everyone of our players have also embraced his ideas. He is also a great and humble man we are very lucky he is with us. This is also replicated by all the people that now put money into the club and sit at the big table ( i don’t like to call them owners as i think we own the club but they deserve credit) The back up staff and not to mention all those around the world who stand behind everyone of the above mentioned. i don’t give a hoot what any of the so called experts say i am loving every game i watch win loose or draw as i love the way that we play


  7. Philip of Spain.

    Another great peice Rob. I agree with everything you said. (crawl crawl) spot on!!


  8. Good piece Rob by the way hope you are well.
    I think that pundits on the whole are pretty bland without an original thought in their heads some even have a problem stringing a coherent sentence together yes Gabby Agbonlahor I mean you the likes of Hinchcliffe, Carney, Lianne Sanderson are quite frankly dreadful and before anyone thinks I’m this that or the other I couldn’t give a monkeys if they are Black, Brown, White, Sky Blue Pink, Male, Female or even Don’t Know all I want is thoughtful insight properly researched opi ions but unfortunately good ones are a pretty rare breed.


  9. king sniffer

    Love it Rob!
    I add my virtual 2 fingers with a nonchalant flick to those who long for our demise. Don’t think I’ve looked forward to a season as much since the days of watching King Sniffer himself et al. MOT


  10. Brilliant piece Rob. What an absolute
    fantastic turn of events in such a relatively short period. Taking the championship by storm followed by the Premiere League. Radrizzani and his passion for Leeds and the solid investments he has made and is still making is outstanding. His intuition, foresight and belief in Bielsa in his pursuit to get him to the club is nothing short of a miracle. Fergie was a giant and scared the pants of everyone in football from players to pundits, but Bielsa is a true God. Man Utd are second rate now in the full glow of things. Leeds Have risen from the ashes. English is the language of the world Bielsa and Leeds are the language of football.


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