SIMON JORDAN: Relegation can help Leeds to clear up the mess

SIMON JORDAN: While this is nothing like the s*** storm Leeds faced in 2004, they have turned themselves into a self-inflicted disaster zone… relegation might actually focus some minds

  • Leeds United’s struggles, which could see them relegated, are self-inflicted 
  • There must be clearer thinking from Andrea Radrizzani and the US consortium 
  • There is no reason why Leeds cannot come straight back up if they’re relegated 

If Leeds United manage to get out of their predicament and stay up, they will need to exhume Harry Houdini to tell them how they managed it.

This has been a tragic waste of an opportunity for this remarkable club, who along with their fans spent so much time straining every sinew to get back into the Premier League after a 16-year absence. For a few halcyon moments three years ago they became everyone’s favourite second team, so exhilarating was their football.

But while it is always darkest before the dawn, the current economic situation at Leeds doesn’t resemble anything like it did when they were relegated in 2004 and there is no reason why they can’t come straight back up.

They’re in a mess of their own making, but when they went down last time they did so in a catastrophic condition thanks to the La La Land that Peter Ridsdale had created.

The irresponsible, profligate, shoot-for-the-stars mentality mortgaged Leeds’ future, left the club in financial disarray and ultimately put them out of the top flight for a generation.

There is no reason why Leeds can’t come straight back up if they suffer relegation

It is somewhat ironic Andrea Radrizzani is, in part, the architect of Leeds’ current decline

This isn’t anything like Leeds’ relegation in 2004 when Peter Ridsdale was chairman

Mail Sport columnist Simon Jordan (pictured) reflects on the struggles Leeds have endured

That spectacular fall from grace gave us a carnival of characters, from the irascible, ultimate football opportunist Ken Bates and the strangeness of Massimo Cellino to current owner Andrea Radrizzani, who was the miracle worker and saviour for a new generation of fans, catapulting Leeds out of the abyss of the Football League under the enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa.

It is somewhat ironic then that Radrizzani is, in part, the architect of the current decline.

However, it’s a different situation now compared to their last Premier League relegation and, while there is never a good time to go down, it might actually focus some minds at Elland Road.

Relegation will lead to some much-needed clearer thinking at the top between Radrizzani and the San Francisco 49ers consortium who plan to launch a full takeover. There have been too many cooks, with none of them making a particularly good recipe.

Leeds have been a rudderless ship, with everyone seemingly pulling in different directions and distracted by different agendas. Maybe going down will clear up this mess because what has been going on is as clear as mud. So while this is nothing like the s*** storm Leeds faced back in 2004, they have turned themselves into a self-inflicted disaster zone.

From allowing Bielsa to go on too long when his approach had run its race, to appointing Jesse Marsch on the basis that what worked in the uncompetitive leagues of Germany and Austria would work in the Premier League. Bielsa’s legacy probably needed to be exorcised but it wasn’t. They needed to change the team and the way they played because it had run its course but they brought in Marsch, who, although probably more tactically proficient than people gave him credit for, was all platitudes.

He smacked to me of someone wishing things were so rather than it actually being so. I was always a naysayer about Marsch’s appointment, but it was soon clear to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that he wasn’t the right man for the job.

The appointment of Jesse Marsch certainly didn’t work out and Leeds took too long to sack him

Leeds turned to Javi Gracia as their next manager as they couldn’t find anybody else

Leeds paid a ghoulish amount of money to Sam Allardyce (right) in an attempt to survive

It was inevitable he was going to go, but rather than sacking him before the World Cup as they should have done and replacing him with Sean Dyche, who would have more than likely jumped at the opportunity, Leeds displayed no coherence or logic, dithered, and allowed Marsch to spend big in January — including a club record signing who has barely played — before finally making a decision and booting him out when the transfer window closed.

Then it was pinning the tail on the donkey time and they ended up with Javi Gracia because they couldn’t find anyone else. They might as well have gone for Big Sam Allardyce there and then.

He probably would have kept them up through sheer force of personality, but this back-of-the-fag-packet approach to hiring and firing managers has led us to this point.

The appointment of Allardyce also shows the profligacy and sheer unadulterated waste that football is prepared to stomach. We’re talking about a ghoulish amount of money here.

Without wishing to be mean-spirited, handing Allardyce £500,000 for four games, or the best part of £3million if he keeps them up, was ugly and unedifying, although the preservation of £100m-plus that survival brings would be justification enough I guess!

How did intellectually capable, talented people running the club manage to get themselves into a position where the best they can do is chuck millions at a manager, who, if we’re being brutal, can point to his most recent achievement as getting West Brom relegated?

If you lack coherent thinking in your boardroom you will lack it in your dugout and on the pitch

Leeds owner Radrizzani struck me as being arrogant, off-hand and slightly away with himself

It’s yet another example of the casino finances of football. Ultimately, you can’t run a football club trying to compete in the Premier League while trying to sell it, especially when the sale is conditional upon Leeds staying in the division.

It sparked a plethora of bad decisions and meant there were too many different agendas about who was bought, who was sold and when. Rumours abounded that Radrizzani wanted to sell players in January who the prospective new owners wanted to keep.

With relegation seemingly now inevitable, Radrizzani has either got to concentrate on regrouping and pushing the club back into position, or the Americans take over at a discounted price. But you can’t keep having mixed messages from on high.

Having spent time with Radrizzani at the World Cup in Qatar, I have to say he is not the most endearing of fellas. I have great admiration for his acumen in the media world, but he struck me as arrogant, off-hand and slightly away with himself. He was like a marginally more sophisticated version of former QPR owner Flavio Briatore. He had the old ‘look at me, I’ve just arrived in the room’ mentality.

That sort of attitude might be why deals have been so difficult to conclude for Leeds and why mixed messages have been sent out at this dysfunctional, incohesive club, because leadership has to start at the top.

In the end, if you lack coherent thinking in your boardroom you will lack it in your dugout and on the pitch, ending in the kind of mess that Leeds now find themselves in.

Mighty Moore puts racists in their place 

Sadly for my mate Darragh MacAnthony, Peterborough decided to play hide and seek with themselves at Hillsborough last week and got exactly what they deserved as Sheffield Wednesday produced the greatest comeback in English play-off history.

I was delighted for Darren Moore after the racist abuse he suffered for losing the first leg 4-0. We do not want to see or hear any form of racism but he did not complain and got on with it while everyone else got offended on his behalf.

I’ve written before about how going up via the play-offs is the best way to get promoted, and that feeling will only be heightened for the Owls and Moore after that incredible night. But a word of warning, it will all have been for nothing if they do not beat Barnsley at Wembley on Monday.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore deserves respect for his response to racist abuse

Leicester’s struggles should be a warning to other clubs

Leicester’s plight should be a warning to other clubs in the Premier League. If your owner is not as focused as they should be on the core principles and attention to detail that made you successful then you are going to find yourselves in a relegation fight, like Leicester this season.

But the good news for clubs such as Brighton and Brentford is that I do not envisage a time when they are going to drop off. They have stuck to their principles and how they want to play football and put proper infrastructures in place that safeguard them.

The moral of the story is keep your eye on the ball, otherwise you could fall from grace like Leicester have, just two years after winning the FA Cup.

You have to keep your eye on the ball or you could fall from grace like Leicester have

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