As Atdhe Nuhiu slotted past Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the 91st at a snowy Elland Road on Saturday, many Leeds fans, who were already resigned to the season being over were left wondering what had gone so wrong in the last 12 months. Saturday’s game with Sheffield Wednesday was almost a year to the day Leeds United had beaten Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road.
Chris Wood’s 63rd minute header from a perfect Charlie Taylor cross on 18th March 2017 produced euphoria that hadn’t been felt in LS11 for some time.
In his post-match interview in front of the Sky cameras, Wood, declared that Leeds shouldn’t just be looking at finishing in the top six but why not set their eyes on the top two?
Ultimately Leeds would finish 7th on 75 points, their biggest points haul since returning to the second tier in 2010. Chris Wood along with Charlie Taylor would eventually cross the Pennines for Premier League Burnley.
However, amongst the natural disappointment of falling out of what seemed a secured play-off place the United faithful went into the summer with plenty to feel optimistic about.
Andrea Radrizzani completed his 100% buyout of Leeds United from fellow Italian Massimo Cellino and Leeds seemed to be finally pulling in the right direction.
Kop season ticket holder Dan Decker recalls the feeling of optimism, “We seemed to have a fairly strong squad which had shown there capabilities in the previous season and a seemingly sensible owner making me feel we were finally approaching a period of stability.”
Garry Monk’s Departure and the appointment of Thomas Christiansen
Just 48 hours into his reign, Garry Monk resigned. Monk’s statement claimed that although it was always his intention to stay at Leeds, a long term and agreement just couldn’t be reached.
Five days later Leeds would appoint Victor Orta as Director of Football. The Spaniard had worked as “Head of Recruitment” for the previous 18 months at Middlesbrough, during the time Boro were promoted to, and subsequently relegated from the Premier League.
This was followed by the signings of Samuel Saiz, Ezgjan Alisoki, Mateusz Klich, Felix Weidwald and of course the managerial appointment of Thomas Christiansen.
The Dane, had won the Cypriot first division with APOEL Nicosia and guided them to the last 16 of the Europa League in his first season with them.
Although the club had appointed unknown managers in the past (the likes of David Hockaday and Darko Milanic spring to mind) Christiansen seemed to have a different feel than the other two appointments.
Andrew “Stats” Dalton (@lufcstats) remembers feeling “pleased” with the Christiansen appointment due to his success in Cyprus and was always willing to give him a chance. He added the opening games of the season certainly proved that.
After picking up five points from the first three games, Leeds headed to Sunderland to face former manager Simon Grayson.
Only hours before kick-off however, Chris Wood released a statement announcing he would not take part in the game amidst Premier League interest.
Leeds would still go on to win the game and Christiansen told the Sky Sports cameras that he would only work with player who want to play for the team, and for them he would die.
Despite being linked with the likes of Nelson Oliveira and Chris Martin, Leeds announced the loan signing of Pierre Michel Lasogga from Hamburg on deadline. Lasogga would get off to a flyer in a Leeds shirt scoring twice on his debut in the 5-0 hammering of Burton Albion.
Leeds would reach the top of the Championship in mid-September before a run of just two wins in nine games which would see them plummet to tenth before beating Garry Monk’s Middlesbrough in front of a packed out Elland Road.
Although scrappy at times Leeds would be back up to 4th on Boxing Day after coming from behind for the first time all season to defeat Burton Albion 2-1.
But despite losing their final game of 2017, Leeds fans had a lot to feel optimistic about for 2018…