Kemar Roofe on why Leeds United season must be completed with next best option null and void

KEMAR ROOFE ended three years at Leeds United hoping the following season would end with Champions League football.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 5:50 am

Instead, the striker's 2019-20 campaign has been cut short with his side eighth in the Belgian Jupiler League.

Public health, knows Roofe, has to come first, but the fight against coronavirus has nonetheless stripped Anderlecht's season short with 11 games potentially left to play.

Anderlecht might have been eighth but victory in their final game might have led to Vincent Company's side making a late jump to seal sixth.

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STOPPED SHORT: Former Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe has seen his first season at Anderlecht ended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by YORICK JANSENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Anything was then possible given Belgium's end of season play-offs system.

It all meant Roofe's Champions League dream was still alive and kicking before Belgian officials opted to end their season early amidst the current pause, giving Club Brugge the title and runners-up Gent Champions League football.

It means that despite being fully aware of just what Leeds United promotion to the Premier League would mean, Roofe believes the English season must be properly completed and if not then declared null and void.

Speaking an interview with SunSport, Roofe assessed the current picture with football across Europe on hold and said: "You must finish the season or try to, otherwise I believe it’s not right to declare teams champions and promote and relegate clubs because there are too many games left to play.

MEMORABLE: Kemar Roofe celebrates scoring Leeds United's winner in the epic 3-2 success at Aston Villa in December 2019. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.

“In our league, I wanted to play the remaining matches because after the last game of the regular season there were another 10 games in the play-offs and so much can happen.

“At Anderlecht we still had a chance of finishing sixth and there was an opportunity of grabbing a European place.

"And that is why I signed for this club – I had the ambition to play in the Champions League or Europa League.

“But – of course – you must flip it and look at the other side of the coin and think how can you finish this current season and play the following one as normal as you can. It’s difficult.

"Null and void is a fairer way than not completing the season.

“You just say the season didn’t exist and everything stays the same, no-one won anything, no-one lost anything.

"Then you scrap it and start the next season. There’s too much riding on it.

"It changes people’s lives and careers when you get relegated – and all because of something you can’t control.

“That’s why you should try to finish it. But public health is the absolute priority.”

In both his second and third seasons at Leeds, Roofe looked on course to help United finally complete the task of returning to the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Having seen Leeds finish 13th in his first season since joining from Oxford United, United looked destined to finish in the Championship's play-offs the following season under Garry Monk only to suffer a late collapse en route to finishing seventh.

Automatic promotion then looked on the cards in Marcelo Bielsa's first season in charge one year later only for the Whites to fall away in the final month to finish third.

Roofe's strike in play-off semi-final first leg at Derby County then had Leeds on course for a Wembley play-off final after a 1-0 victory only for the Rams to turn the tie on its head with a 4-2 victory in the second leg at Elland Road. Roofe was forced to miss the game with a calf injury.

“It was painful to watch especially as I was sitting next to Derby fans who were giving me stick," said Roofe.

"It was like a funeral in the dressing room afterwards.

“No-one could say anything, no-one knew what to say. Usually there’s someone who will say some wise words to lift everyone – but no-one had any. We were all in shock.”

Roofe then joined Anderlecht just short of three months later but United had worked their way into an even stronger position than the one they were in 12 months earlier before all football was suspended.

Leeds are now awaiting news of how this season will be decided with the Whites leading the Championship with a seven-point cushion in the automatic promotion spots with nine games left.

“They’re the same as last season but more refined because they’ve had that one year of experience beforehand," said Roofe.

“We were learning on the job last season. Bielsa came in with new tactics and style of play and we had to learn fast.

“It gave us a lot of information to pick up and also physically he built us up well.

“And this season they were reaping the rewards because they’re naturally fitter than all the other teams.

“With Bielsa, I know it sounds silly, he’s put square pegs in square holes.

"It’s as simple as that, there are other teams that I’ve been at where some players shouldn’t be playing in certain positions or certain formations shouldn’t be used in the team but Bielsa has his way of playing and has the players to do that.

“You must execute his demands as well. If you can’t do that, you’re not going to play.

“Marcelo is a manager who likes to keep his distance from the players. He has a team of coaches that are very good so when he isn’t around they can take control.

“He had a team of coaches and fitness people that would run the ship pretty much while he was looking at the top and making sure everything was running smoothly."

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