Leeds United man's good day, big signing and Ivan Toney's bad day and off-camera moments

Leeds United put their fans through the mill this season, right to the very end - but at least it was the sweetest of finishes.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 12:29 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 12:31 pm

The Whites secured their Premier League status by virtue of a 2-1 win over a Brentford side that finished the game with nine men, as Newcastle United completed the other part of the job with their victory over Burnley.

In the end three points separated Leeds from the Clarets, who joined Norwich City and Watford in falling out of the top flight, leaving Jesse Marsch and his players to enjoy wild celebrations in London. The capital has not always been a happy hunting ground for Leeds but this win made up for so many disappointments down there over the past few years, because it meant so much.

Here's the YEP take on a mind-melting season finale.

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Good day

Raphinha

If this was goodbye, it was befitting the man and his ability. He was dangerous, earned a penalty and scored it in one of the most intense moments of his career. How he kept that cool, in the heat and noise and tension, is a mystery. Fully deserved the celebrations at the end. A very good player and one Leeds needed. He went through his struggles for form and didn't always look like Marsch's system fitted him but he came up with some huge moments and this was the biggest of the lot. He was always going to get his big move this summer, no matter what, so to remain so invested in Leeds' fate says a lot about the young man from Brazil.

MATCH WINNERS - Raphinha and Jack Harrison scored the goals that sparked wild celebrations for Leeds United at Brentford. Pic: Tony Johnson

Trusted in the midfield in the biggest game of the season and he didn't let anyone down. A lively performance, some nice moments and plenty of desire to get on the ball. Gave away free-kicks but some of those were smart decisions, in the right areas, with Brentford trying to break out. Having remained in the shadow of his good friend Joe Gelhardt for a large part of this season, this was his big moment and he did himself proud.

Jesse Marsch

Greenwood over Mateusz Klich was a big call - even if the American insisted it was an easy one - and it paid off. Brentford going down to nine helped but Marsch has to be given credit for keeping Leeds on an even keel as chaos ensued all around them. The phantom goals, celebrated by Leeds fans and then their home counterparts, can't have helped anyone's composure and the heat was a factor but the job got done. Still has to prove himself to a lot of people but he's got a very good grounding in what it's like to be Leeds, and a summer in which to start crafting something that looks more like the football he wants to be his trademark.

Jack Harrison

Didn't score a Premier League goal until January and then got eight, including the winner that guaranteed Premier League football. With the ball at his feet he has encountered frustration on an industrial scale this season, but when it comes to end product he stepped up on enough occasions in the past four months or so to justify his selection. His work-rate will give him every chance of improving on this campaign.

Archie Gray

Sixteen years old, being part of the matchday squad for the club he has grown up around, for whom his dad, grandfather and great uncle played, and celebrating a famous moment, the day before the latest round of GCSEs. Gray is racking up an incredible amount of experience and becoming so accustomed to life in the senior squad that by the time he makes the step up to Premier League involvement it should not come as a huge culture shock.

Leeds fans

There will be sore heads aplenty today. There were probably sore heads aplenty come full-time, given the incessant belting out of songs in the London heat. From the first game at Old Trafford to the last at Brentford they have created a spectacle that was sorely missed last season and provided a backing that at times hasn't been deserved. In the end they got what they deserved and those scenes will live long in the memories of all involved.

Bad day

Sergi Canos

He's always involved in the drama when it comes to Leeds. Scored a really lovely goal and then took two daft yellow cards, one for his celebrations and one for wiping out Raphinha on the touchline, to leave his team with a two-man disadvantage. That it was a player on the team with nothing to gain and nothing to lose that lost his head, and not a man in a lilac Leeds shirt, was just one of many remarkable facets of a crazy day.

Ivan Toney

He stoked the fire with a Tweet a week and a half prior to the game but didn't walk the walk on matchday. His performance wasn't enough and it was left to other Brentford attackers to cause the bulk of the problems. His attempt to get in Raphinha's head before the penalty was as blatant as it was unsuccessful.

Rodrigo

All's well that ends well and Rodrigo was there celebrating the win as wholeheartedly as anyone, but what came from him in the 90 minutes wasn't good enough by far. That's two underwhelming seasons of struggle and inconsistency in a row since signing for £27m.

Off-camera moments

Leo Hjelde emerging from the tunnel with the squad as they took a look at the Brentford pitch, wearing a face mask. It was an incongruous sight, given the requirement to wear them has been lifted.

Leeds took the whole gang to London. Tyler Roberts was there, Luke Ayling came out on his crutches as the team surveyed the playing surface and Adam Forshaw eventually joined him, with his customary cuppa in hand.

If there were pre-match nerves, few showed on the faces of the players. Andrea Radrizzani clearly had some nervous energy to burn off as he wandered around the technical areas long before kick-off, engaging various members of staff in conversation.

Immediately prior to kick-off, Kalvin Phillips made a point of going over to the Leeds fans in the corner and sharing a moment of mutual appreciation. Recognising their support is important to the midfielder and he's beloved by them. The moments they shared at full-time were even better, though.

Ivan Toney and Robin Koch got acquainted in a second half off-the-ball coming together. They bumped shoulders, shared a few words and gave it the mean mugging routine as they ran back down the pitch behind the play.

As the tension rose and Leeds sought a second goal, all the while knowing that a Burnley equaliser against Newcastle could change the picture drastically, they temporarily lost composure on the ball and allowed nine-man Brentford to start breaking on them. Forshaw stood up from his position on the bench and motioned frantically for calm.

When Harrison's goal went in, it went off inside Brentford Community Stadium. Archie Gray was hugging Marsch one minute and popping up down by the corner flag the next having hared across the pitch with some others from the bench. The subbed Greenwood took some flak from home fans as he made his way back around the pitch perimetre and opened his arms wide, not caring a jot.

And it all happened again at full-time, the Leeds bench erupting along with the away end. Head of medicine Rob Price and his staff became a tangle of limbs and bouncing bodies, players and coaches hit the deck and eventually everyone, including the club's media staff, owner Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta, assembled in front of the fans. Stuart Dallas was there on his crutches, Orta embraced Raphinha on his knees. It was mayhem.