Leeds United back in the big time after 16 year gap

After 16 long years away from the top flight of English football, Leeds United are back in the big time.

Their place back at the top table was confirmed on Friday by West Brom’s defeat at Huddersfield Town.

Not only did they gain promotion without kicking a ball, but the Peacocks were crowned Champions on Saturday.

Argentine Marcelo Bielsa has led the Yorkshire outfit to glory in just his second season in charge.

They had seemed set to win promotion last season but suffered a dramatic 4-3 play-off semi-final loss to Derby.

Long and painful road back

It has been a very painful journey back to the Premier League for fans of Leeds. Having reached the semi-final of the Champions League in 2001 you would off expected the club to get stronger. But this is football, and in this wonderful sport the mighty can easily fall from the top to the bottom quickly.

The club were in a perilous position when they were relegated to the Championship in 2004. Despite manager at the time Kevin Blackwell initially steading the ship, they were placed in administration in 2007. This after they reached the play-off final in 2016 but lost out to Watford 3-0.

Big penalty loss for club

Worse followed when Leeds suffered a 15-point deduction before the start of the following campaign.  Undeterred by this massive set back Leeds fought back to get to the play-off final. It wasn’t to be for the Yorkshire giants as they lost out to Doncaster.

After the departure of Blackwell the club turned to Simon Grayson to take over. In 2010 Grayson led Leeds back to the Championship after finishing runners up to Norwich.

Allowing top scorer to leave for nothing

The club were still in a perilous position with finances and had to end up selling top scorer Jermaine Beckford. The popular striker moved to Everton on a free transfer having scored 71 goals for the Peacocks.

Despite this setback and little money made available to Grayson he managed to keep them in the promotion hunt.  Eventually Chairman Ken Bates had had enough and sacked Blackwell.

In February 2012 Neil Warnock was appointed as Manager. The club were sold to GFH Capital in November. This proved a bad experience with turmoil in the boardroom which amounted to Brian McDermott taking over from Warnock.

He failed to deliver and was sacked by new owner Massimo Cellino. The Italian didn’t have control of the club but when he did take over McDermott remained.

The second half of the 2013-14 campaign was dreadful and eventually to no surprise McDermott quit in the summer.

Cellino’s first managerial appointment was Dave Hockday, the former manager of Forest Green Rovers. His spell in charge was a disaster having won only one game in 70 days in charge.

Darko Milanic was named as Hockday’s replacement, but he quit the following month and was replaced by caretaker manager Neil Redfearn.

Cellino was forced to stop taking day to day running of the club.The Football league eventually finding out he had a conviction for tax fraud in Italy.

In the summer of 2015 Uwe Rosler was given the task to steer Leeds back to the glory years. This was a short appointment with Steve Evans asked to take control.

In 2016 Gary Monk was asked to take over the side, but like previous managers before him he failed.

Making progress under Bielsa

It took until 2018 until Leeds finally got some stability into the club when Bielsa accepted the challenge.

The flamboyant South American has been a breath of fresh air to the club and the city. Although he speaks virtually no English, he has turned around Leeds fortunes.

So much so that next season Leeds will be in the Premiership, something they wouldn’t have dreamed off a long time ago.

The big test is still to come for the Peacocks. Having won promotion they have to consolidate their place in the top league next season.

But for long suffering Leeds fans they will even take a season of struggle. After all when you have waited this long and with so many lows to suffer, just enjoy the good times.

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