'The gloom has been lifted' - Leeds United fans toast Premier League survival at Elland Road on exhilarating final day

Leeds United fans were overcome with relief after the Whites' 2-1 victory over Brentford sealed their place in next year's Premier League.

By Flora Snelson
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 11:01 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 11:03 pm

After the club breezed to a ninth-placed finish in their maiden top-flight season, the Elland Road faithful have been left reeling this term as Leeds have found the Premier League exceptionally challenging at the second time of asking.

The Whites have had to deal with countless injuries, making matchday selection a nightmare and consistency hard to come by, as well as a complete overhaul mid-season as former United boss Marcelo Bielsa was sacked to be replaced by Jesse Marsch, whose new ideas didn't perfectly align with the habits of the players he inherited.

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Despite flirting with the drop zone for the majority of the season, Leeds fans never thought the fight for survival would come down to the very last match, but a late surge in form by United's relegation rivals forced the final day drama that nobody wanted.

Down at the Bielsa, so-called in honour of Leeds' well-loved ex-manager, the mood swung like a pendulum in the final twenty minutes of the Bees clash - from the schadenfreude of Sergi Canos' dismissal to anxious whispered suggestions of a Burnley equaliser, then back round to desperation in the dying moments as United knocked hard on Brentford's door to force the goal that would tie things up once and for all.

The Clarets' equaliser never came, but that didn't matter - as Jack Harrison slotted home the winner at the Brentford Community Stadium, the Bielsa erupted with an elation that wiped away Burnley, and Canos, and goal difference, and a whole season's worth of worry. Leeds were staying up and the relief was plain to see.

It didn't take long for a crowd to gather at the statue of former Leeds United legend Billy Bremner outside Elland Road, where what started as a few backslaps between a fellow strangers soon became a raucous party with flares and chants and plenty of beer.

Leeds United fans gather at Elland Road to celebrate the Whites' Premier League survival. Pic: Flora Snelson.

Brian, who has been a Leeds fan since he attended his first game - a 2-1 home home defeat to Bury - in 1962, is delighted his club got their happy ending.

“It feels like the gloom has been over the club and the supporters over the last five or six weeks has been lifted and even the most optimistic Leeds fan only predicted doom and gloom today, so it’s absolutely wonderful that the stars aligned and everything came together - absolutely wonderful," he said.

After the final whistle, Whites chairman Andrea Radrizzani released a statement backing Marsch to take the club forward in the 2022/2023 Premier League campaign.

Brian is ready to get behind the American, despite Marsch's rocky start to life at Elland Road.

'We can hopefully regroup for next season, let’s hope so.' - Brian is optimistic for Leeds United's 2022/2023 season. Pic: Flora Snelson.

"I think it’s ‘mission accomplished’ for Marsch," he said.

"If you said to any Leeds fan, Jesse Marsch is coming in, if we can stay up, would he be the man? Absolutely! His tactics are open to debate - is he too narrow? He’s got Raphinha taking throw-ins? But hey, we’re here!

"All we can do is give Jesse a good ‘aw shucks’ and our support for next year.

"Nobody’s enjoyed the season, because everything bad seemed to go against us - long term injuries, lack of investment, latterly the change of coach, fans were falling out about Marcelo being fired…

Jesse Marsch took over at Elland Road in February and has successfully guided Leeds United out of the drop zone. Pic: Alex Davidson.

"I feel that today the club is much more United. We can hopefully regroup for next season, let’s hope so."

His sentiment is shared by Gemma, who was waving her flag proudly alongside her friend Jess at Elland Road on Sunday evening.

"It’s been an awful season," Gemma said. "They need to regroup now, buy some more players, and then hopefully we’ll be alright next season.

"I honestly thought we’d lose today. I’m such a pessimist.

"Expect the worst, then it’s better when it happens."

Harrison's survival-securing strike was the eighth goal United have scored in stoppage time this season, and Jess was chuffed to see her faith in the side's ability to dig it out at the eleventh hour was well-placed.

Jack Harrison celebrates his late equaliser with fellow goal-scorer Raphinha during Leeds United's 2-1 final day victory over Brentford. Pic: Alex Davidson.

"I always knew we would snatch it in the 90th minute," she said.

"I said it to my nephew, a couple of hours before the game we were chatting on the phone, I told him we’ll snatch it!

"We never do it easy.

"All the way, Leeds, every time - they’ll never give it to you easy."

Jess and Gemma disagreed about Leeds United's survival chances ahead of kick-off - but it was all smiles after the final whistle at Elland Road. Pic: Flora Snelson.