PART TWO: The season that promised so much but delivered nothing

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Continued…

Leeds would dominate the game on New Years Day against Nottingham Forest, but it would end in a frustrating 0-0.

Thomas Christiansen would take the positives, however, saying the team did everything they could to win, apart from score.

A Lack of Discipline

Next up for Leeds, was a trip to south Wales to face Newport County in the third round of the FA Cup. The two sides had already met at the start of the season, in the Carabao Cup, where United comfortably won 5-1 at Elland Road.

Leeds would start the brighter of the two sides and thanks to Gaetano Berardi’s first Leeds goal were ahead within nine minutes. However, with just under 15 minutes remaining Newport would equalise courtesy of a Conor Shaughnessy own goal. There was a sense after that goal that there would only be one outcome and sure enough Shawn McClousky headed in Newport’s winner on the 89th minute.

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Leeds’ frustration would be compounded by the sending off of Samu Saiz, arguably Leeds’ best player in the first half of the season. Saiz was seen to have spat at County forward Robbie Willmott and was subsequently banned for six matches.

The defeats to Ipswich Town and Millwall would also see players sent off. Fans began to question the discipline in the squad and Christiansen’s leadership skills.

Leeds United 3 – 4 Millwall

For me, no game had a bigger impact on the season. Trailing 2-0 at half time to Millwall and a man down, many fans would of been forgiven if they had headed for the exit early.

Leeds however, hit back less than a minute after the restart. Pierre Michel Lasogga calmly finishing from 12 yards out, before Kemar Roofe bundled home an equaliser on 55 minutes.

With the momentum firmly in Leeds’ favour, Lasogga calmly fired from 20 yards to put Leeds in front. Then, of course, Leeds did what Leeds do best. Not only did they concede an 87th minute equaliser they went on to concede a 92nd minute winner. Despite this the squad were clapped of the field with most fans struggling to believe what they’d just witnessed.

Although the team did perform heroically, the result must of had big impact on the mentality of the squad.

The Worst Crest Ever

“Prepared for the next 100 years” read the tweet from the club’s official twitter page. In reality, the “new crest” the club unveiled that day wouldn’t last 24 hours. With a petition for the club to scrap it reaching over 50,000 signatures the club confirmed the would re consult the fans. Tom Bradley (@TBradley23) referred to the badge as being a real negative turning point and that fans had rightfully lost some trust that had been established with the owner.

Image of the resdesigned Leeds United badge
“The Worst Crest Ever”? Leeds United’s shortest lived badge. Photo Credit: Leeds United Football Club @LUFC

The sacking of Thomas Christiansen and appointment of Paul Heckingbottom

February started with another four goal hammering and red card at Elland Road. Leeds, were comfortably beaten by Neil Warnock’s Cardiff 4-1 with Gaetano Berardi receiving Leeds’ fourth red card in five games.

Late Sunday night the club released confirmation that they had parted company with Thomas Christiansen.

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The club would act quickly and announced the appointment of Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom less than 48 hours after Christiansen’s departure.

Season ticket holder Jacob Ehrlich (JacobEhrlichUK) remembers feeling “dubious” over the appointment. “He didn’t seem to have much managerial experience and Barnsley’s recent form wasn’t great.” It didn’t help how only a couple of months previously Heckingbottom had told the media how he grew up “hating Leeds”.

Despite losing away to Sheffield United in Heckingbottom’s first game, there were some reasons to be optimistic. The defeat had come over a dubious penalty decision and Leeds had shown more of a fight than in recent weeks.

Following on from this Leeds would come from 2-0 down to draw to Bristol City, and come within a minute of winning at Derby County.

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Heckingbottom would first and so far only victory would come in a 1-0 home win against Brentford. Since then Leeds have amassed just one point from a possible twelve. Most fans, myself include want this season to be over.

Despite having some doubts over Heckingbottom, Jacob believes Leeds must stick with him to be able to provide some continuity and build a team.

Maybe all of these factors have contributed to the disappointing season but Leeds need to re group and really show they are “Stronger Together” if they want to challenge next season.

Who is to blame? The naivety of Radrizanni? The lack of discipline? Thomas Christiansen? No Continuity? Comment below.