How Andrea Radrizzani has put Leeds United in excellent shape - David Prutton

LEEDS United’s return to the Premier League has been a huge success and better still, the Whites appear in decent shape for the future under chairman Andrea Radrizzani.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 4:45 am

You have to remember the journey that this football club has been on, and when and how the train first started to hit the buffers with their financial collapse from their last Premier League adventure.

The club was duking it out at the top of the Premier League and in Europe before it all went spectacularly wrong, and it’s all rather frightening that the club was run like that.

In the end, it led to what we saw with my end of the equation as a player in League One, the mucky part of the Leeds United, a club that was on its knees and badly needed someone.

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LOOKING GOOD: Leeds United under chairman Andrea Radrizzani, above. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

But the club managed to progress back into the Championship and then Massimo Cellino came in and then Andrea and now look where they are now.

Across the board, football has taken a monumental hit due to the coronavirus pandemic and that’s me talking about football in isolation.

The broader business world and human race has taken one massive hit after hit over the last year or so, unforeseen as well.

Football finances always seem to be a slightly murky world with a lot of different dynamics to it and I am not for one second that way mathematically inclined to know the minutiae of it.

For every football club, the ultimate aim is to be a Manchester City but the resources that City draw on are significantly more than most of what world sport can draw, so let’s keep it in perspective.

With Leeds, there is a flip side to the coin and a case of ‘what if’ because without the pandemic you know for a fact that every single home game at Elland Road would have been a sell out.

The stadium would have been packed to the rafters for every game that was played there this season.

I have always said from a footballing perspective that if you get back into the Premier League after 16 years then you make sure that the first thing that happens is you stay there, as financially it’s absolutely make or break that you do that.

That then gets you back on an even keel and from there you can progress and start to really compete with the bigger sides, as opposed to treading water.

Leeds made an operating loss of just over £64m during 2019-2020, despite increasing turnover, despite promotion, but we have to remember the climate in which this happened and it is understandable.

And you also need to look at the fact that within very recent history there have been a couple of times where those losses would have been the bright shiny day as opposed to the dark clouds which were at that club but don’t exist any more.

Andrea has got a lot to be lauded for in the way the club is now run.

There are bound to be plenty of changes over the summer with players coming and going and it appears that Gjanni Alioski will probably be the most notable departure from a first-team perspective.

Alioski has had his ups and downs this season.

He was excellent in dealing with Gareth Bale against Tottenham but was at fault for the penalty the week before against Brighton.

But if you rewound to the player that first came in and said that he would be part of a Championship winning team at full-back, then you would have been scratching your head really.

You wouldn’t have seen it, I don’t think.

But regardless of what the future holds, the player that Marcelo has moulded Alioski into has held his place in this Leeds United team and collectively Leeds have got better as a squad.

If you look at where Leeds are possibly going to finish and you look at that as a first season back after 16 years, then it’s been a phenomenal success.

But now it will be about going forward again, such is the measure of progress and maybe where the Leeds hierarchy and the fans want to get to.

That said, on the flip side of it, there needs to be an air of caution and Leeds can’t get too carried away, even though there are quite obviously big aspirations and huge ambitions at that football club.

They need that incremental progress and if that means an upgrade with a specialist full-back at left-back and that helps them then so be it.

But I don’t think you can underestimate what the likes of Alioski and people like Mateusz Klich and Liam Cooper have done as well, although it’s slightly different with Liam.

These are players that you have seen in one division being transformed at a higher level altogether and they have helped get the club back to where it feels it belongs.

They have played an absolutely vital part in what Leeds have become and managed to work their way back to in the Premier League.

Alioski might have had his detractors and question marks about his quality and there have been several players you could have said that to over the course of their careers at Leeds United.

But as a collective you can’t say that this group has been anything other than an unmitigated success.

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Thank you Laura Collins