A Season In Review: Leeds United


In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Check out the last episode in this series, featuring Fulham, here!

Transfer Windows

Leeds had some big losses to deal with during the transfer windows this season. Helder Costa left the club as a free agent, whilst Kalvin Phillips made a big-money move to Premier League champions Man City.

One of their best players had moved to another Premier League club, and another of their best players moved to a European giant. Raphina drew the interest of Barcelona, and when they came calling, he answered.

Leeds brought quite a few players in during the transfer window as well. Joel Robles arrived as a free agent, whilst a double signing from RB Salzburg strengthened their defence, with Max Wober and Kristensen joining.

Moving into the midfield, they had big boots to fill now Phillips had moved on. Weston Kckennie arrived from Juventus, and Marc Roca joined from another European giant, this time Bayern Munich.

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Tyler Adams also found himself moving from Germany, making the transfer from RB Leipzig, whilst Leeds decided to raid RB Salzburg one last time for Brenden Aaronson. With the attack and midfield sorted, there was still room for a few attacking options.

Gnonto arrived from Zurich, and Luis Sinisterra from Feyenoord to bolster their ranks out wide, whilst Rutter arrived from Hoffenheim to help Patrick Bamford up top.

On paper, some very good additions to the Leeds squad. Rutter and Gnonto were very highly thought of across Europe, and Tyler Adams has been a consistent performer in Germany for a long time. A very good transfer window from Leeds.

Managerial Changes

Understandably, Leeds had a few managerial changes throughout the season, with some of these more justifiable than others. Leeds started the new season continuing with Jesse Marsch. The season started brightly for Leeds, winning 2 or their first 3 games, and drawing their other one.

But then it all went downhill. A run of 8 games without a win plummeted Leeds into danger, and despite back-to-back wins against Liverpool and Bournemouth, a further 7 games without a win, and the board decided enough was enough.

After a 1-0 loss against Nottingham Forest, Leeds sacked Marsch, and Michael Skubala took charge. His reign only lasted 3 games, in which he lost 2 and drew the third, against Man United.

On the 21st of February, the board decided to hire Javi Gracia as manager. He started his tenure with a 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Southampton. Gracia then won 2 more games in his next 5.

Then the poor form started to affect Leeds. They suffered back-to-back thrashings, a 5-1 loss at home against Crystal Palace, and a 6-1 loss at home against Liverpool. The board decided enough was enough after a 4-1 loss to Bournemouth, and on the 3rd of May, Gracia got sacked, with Sam Allardyce taking charge for the last 4 games.

Allardyce only managed to pick up a single point in these 4 games, in what was a very confusing and ineffective appointment. Ultimately, Leeds went down.

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Key Games

Key games for sides who get relegated are hard to judge. They never really go on winning runs and lose most of their games. The same can be said for Leeds. However, one game sticks out, that I believe sent Leeds United down.

Under Javi Gracia, things were not going too badly to start with. They had picked up wins against Southampton, Wolves and Nottingham Forest. They then had a game against Crystal Palace at home, who were also struggling, but were under new management, former Palace manager Roy Hodgson.

The game started perfectly for Leeds. They were the better side in the opening stages and took the lead through Bamford after 21 minutes. They continued to push throughout the first half, but could not find that second goal.

Just before half-time, in the first minute of stoppage time, Marc Guehi equalised for the visitors, completely against the run of play, sending the sides in level at half-time.

It was that goal, and that moment, that effectively sent Leeds down. After a competent and strong first half showing, that they could not build on, they were made to pay in the second half.

Crystal Palace came out buoyed by the equaliser, and 8 minutes after the restart Jordan Ayew put the visitors in front before Eze extended their lead 2 minutes later. With 20 minutes to go, Edouard made it 4-1, and Ayew completed the rout, making it 5-1 with 13 minutes to play.

If Leeds managed to hold on til half time with their lead intact or were more efficient in front of goal and managed to score a few more in that opening 45 minutes, I believe Crystal Palace would not have come out fighting in that second half.

If Leeds went on to win that game, who knows what would have happened? They may still have gone down, but it may have given them more confidence to go on and win a few of their remaining games.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Leeds entered the Carabao Cup in the second round, with a home tie against League One side Barnsley. Leeds fielded a fairly strong team, and they were rewarded for it. Sinisterra opened the score after 21 minutes, and Klich doubled their advantage from the penalty spot 11 minutes later.

Barnsley hit back through Andersen 3 minutes later, and could have equalised had Callum Styles been able to convert his penalty. Klich restored Leeds 2 goal advantage shortly after halftime, and they progressed into the third round.

For beating Barnsley, they were rewarded with a tie against Wolves. In a largely uneventful game, we had to wait until the 85th minute for the only goal of the game. It came the way of the home side, courtesy of Boubacar Traoré, knocking Leeds out in the third round.

FA Cup

Leeds entered the FA Cup in the third round, with an away game against Championship strugglers Cardiff City. Leeds found themselves 2-0 after just over half an hour, with goals from Philogene and Ojo giving the hosts a commanding lead.

Leeds hit back in the second half. Rodrigo halved the deficit after 65 minutes. Bagan received a second yellow card after giving away a penalty for Cardiff, as Rodrigo was given the chance to equalise for the visitors.

He could not make it count, however, as he missed his penalty, keeping the score at 2-1. Sonny Perkins sent the tie to a replay as he equalised for Leeds in the 93rd minute.

The replay at Elland Road was a cracker. Leeds got off to the perfect start when Gnonto found the back of the net within the first minute before 2 goals in 2 minutes from Rodrigo and Gnonto gave Leeds a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Bamford scored twice in 5 second-half minutes to essentially finish the game off, but Cardiff put some respectability on the score line, as Callum Robinson netted a brace, with the game finished 5-2 in favour of Leeds.

After the absolute cracker at Elland Road, Leeds travelled to League One side Accrington Stanley in the fourth round. Jack Harrison gave the visitors the lead in the first half, and in the second, 2 goals in 2 minutes from Firpo and Sinisterra gave Leeds a 3-0 lead. Stanley did pull one back through Adekoya, but it was too little too late.

In the fifth round, Leeds were presented with an away game against fellow Premier League side Fulham. It was a straightforward win for the home side, who ended Leeds’ FA Cup run, with goals from Palhinha and Manor Solomon.

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Season Overall

Overall, obviously, it was a very disappointing season for Leeds. They invested well in the transfer windows, bringing some quality players in, but they could not make it work on the pitch.

Their home form really let them down, as teams turned up and rolled them over like they were nothing. Jesse Marsch was always going to play attack-minded, and his defence suffered as a result.

The appointment of Allardyce with 4 games to go was never going to work. He has been out of a job since his relegation at West Brom during the 20-21 season, and he came in full of confidence.

The confidence did not show on the pitch, however, as Leeds looked just as bad under him as they did under Javi Gracia. A string of bad decisions from the board over managerial appointments really let Leeds down this season.

Their cup runs were also poor. Despite making it to the fifth round of the FA Cup, both cup runs ended at the first sight of a Premier League team, and they even struggled to beat Cardiff away from home.

All in all, a horrible season for Leeds who will now be playing in The Championship next season. They will have a big rebuild as many of their current players will not be wanting to play their football in The Championship. Interesting times are ahead for Leeds United.

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