Andrea Radrizzani on why Leeds United's initial promotion failure was a blessing in disguise

WHITES chairman Andrea Radrizzani feels Leeds United's promotion heartache of 2019 actually acted as a blessing in disguise.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:45 pm

United looked set to end what was then a 15-year exile from the Premier League and go up automatically in head coach Marcelo Bielsa's second season in charge when spending the majority of the 2018-19 campaign in the Championship's top two.

Leeds, though, took just one point from their final four games and saw their hopes of sealing a top-two finish dealt hammer blows as a 2-1 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic on Good Friday was followed by a 2-0 reverse at Brentford three days later.

The Bees reverse left third-placed Leeds three points behind second-placed Sheffield United with two games left and the Blades then recorded a 2-0 victory at home to Ipswich Town the following weekend leaving the Whites needing a goal difference miracle.

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HEARTACHE: Whites captain Liam Cooper applauds the travelling Leeds United supporters following the 2-0 defeat at Brentford of Easter Monday 2019. But Leeds romped to promotion as champions one year on. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Realistically, it meant the play-offs as champions Norwich City and runners-up Sheffield United went up in the automatics.

The Whites were then left heartbroken once more after defeat in the play-offs semi-finals to Derby County who themselves lost in the play-off final to Aston Villa.

But Leeds signed head coach Bielsa up to another year and then stormed to promotion in the ultimate style as the 2019-20 campaign, finishing ten points clear of runners-up West Brom.

Both seasons were captured by the Amazon Prime documentary Take Us Home: Leeds United and nearly six months into their first season back in the top flight, Bielsa's Whites now sit 11th and 12 points clear of the drop zone with just 12 games left.

Whilst heart-breaking at the time, Whites majority owner Radrizzani said another season in the Championship under Bielsa ultimately stood the Whites in better stead for their top-flight return.

Speaking to Daily CBS Soccer Podcast ¡Qué Golazo!, Radrizzani said: "I'm actually even pleased that not just for the glamour of the documentary but I'm pleased that in the first year we couldn't achieve direct promotion and that we lost to Derby and not just to make the show more entertaining.

"To be honest I think it was a very good plan out of our hands that we needed to stay in the Championship for one more year and consolidate this fantastic group of players that we have.

"I think being together in the Championship they got mature, they got a different mentality and they built a higher confidence and the skills to manage the game in different phases.

"This is helping them a lot in the first Premier League so I am very glad that we stayed in that hell of a league in the Championship for one year longer to come now more ready in the Premier League."

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Thank you Laura Collins