Thomas Christiansen vowed to “die with my ideas and my philosophy” as he backed himself to make the most of his surprise appointment at Leeds United and improve on Garry Monk’s year in charge.
Speaking for the first time since taking over as head coach, Christiansen promised “effective” football at Elland Road and admitted Leeds should be aiming to improve on a seventh-placed finish in the Championship this season.
Christiansen was presented to the media yesterday, four days after replacing Monk on a two-year contract, and he said United’s late dip below the top six this term – surrendering an eight-point advantage in the final month –had presented him with an obvious target for his first campaign as head coach.
The 44-year-old was an unexpected choice by new Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani, convincing Radrizzani to appoint him during a detailed presentation and interview in Madrid last week, and he came to Elland Road on the back of three years in Cyprus, including 12 months as manager of current champions APOEL.
Christiansen insisted he was confident of making an impact at Elland Road, saying: “All coaches have different ways of seeing football. The most important thing is to be effective and take results.
“Everyone wants to play nice football – attractive, having the ball, scoring a lot of goals – but at the end if you don’t take the points you’re not doing anything.
“I have to adapt to Leeds, the team and the system but I will die with my ideas and my philosophy, and not being stupid – by knowing what is the best to do in each moment.”
Christiansen became United’s eighth first-team boss in three years and secured the job despite Radrizzani showing keen interest in Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner and Reading’s Jaap Stam. Asked about the presentation he gave to Radrizzani, in which he reviewed a number of United’s recent fixtures, Christiansen said: “It was one where I analysed the team and the players but also spoke about the way we work and the mentality we use, having things clear about what I want.
“You can say something but not bring it (to a club), only because it sounds good. In my way it’s clear what I want and that’s one of the reasons they decided on me.
“I’ve seen several games and from that I have much information about how the team played, the formation and about the players individually. This is what I told (Radrizzani) - what I like, what I don’t like, what could be the differences with me.”
United’s director of football, Victor Orta, said Christiansen’s enthusiasm for the job had been key in persuading Leeds to appoint him.
“He understood that Leeds was the opportunity for him, not just one opportunity,” Orta said. “That’s how I felt when we interviewed Thomas.
“We analysed a lot of people in the process and had a lot of interviews with other managers because it is our obligation but we finished the meeting (with Christiansen) and all had a little chat and decided that he was the right person at this moment to arrive at this big club.”
Leeds’ players are preparing to return for the start of pre-season this week and the countdown to the new term will begin in earnest tomorrow when the Football League announces its 2017-18 Championship fixture list.
Christiansen admitted he was aiming to “at least” reach the play-offs next season. “In APOEL we won the league we made a historic season in Europe,” he said. “It was difficult to make something better.
“It’s not impossible but the new coach who comes there will have more difficulties than in my situation. Because we (Leeds) didn’t come to the play-offs, that gives me the possibility to at least join the play-offs this season.
“Last year, they finished seventh and we are hoping to do better.”