Myanmar, Money and Politics- What direction are Leeds United going in?
It has got to be said, it is refreshing to see a club such as Leeds United being run by an owner, who to be fair to him, seems a genuine man. There does not seem to be any sign of corruption and lies and Leeds fans are used to, however one must look and question some of the events on and off the pitch this season perhaps Andrea Radrizzani has been slightly naive to.
It is fair to say that the Whites have not hit anywhere near the heights of last season that saw them narrowly miss out on the playoffs.
The naivety of Radrizzani that should be questioned is a quote from earlier in the season to which he responded to a fan questioning whether the squad was better than last season to which he replied “Of course”.
This is something any Leeds fan will tell you is not at all true and if anything it is slightly worse with key players such as Kyle Bartley, Charlie Taylor, Rob Green and Chris Wood that have not been replaced.
But lets move away from the on pitch disappointment and analyse just what has happened off of it.
It started off very well in the hearts of Leeds fans when Andrea bought back their beloved Elland Road to which they had not owned as club since the demise from the Premier League.
His appointment of a Director of Football however in Victor Orta was met with controversy right from the start, a man that was disliked by the majority of the Middlesbrough fan base when he was in the same role there.
Other than the ground, probably the most positive thing to come out of this season is the youth development which has seen Leeds United Under 18s win their respective league and has seen promising players such as Tom Pearce, Hugo Diaz, Callum Nicell and Ryan Edmondson all working closely with the first team.
PR has been something heavily scrutinised by fans and media this season at the club basically stating it to be a disaster with the now infamous new Leeds badge which was forced to be removed after a matter of hours of announcing it due to the sheer uproar it caused.
Now to send matters further, the club have announced a post-season, two game tour, of Myanmar (Burma) a country which is war-torn and corrupt and has caused Leeds’ MP’s to all issue a letter to Andrea to urging him to cancel.
A Kuala Lumpa-based football club, Rohingya FC has also issued its own statement urging Radrizzani to “Show humanity” and cancel the tour.
Club secretary, Mohammed Faruk, stated that “Leeds will be dealing with people who don’t know how to respect humanity.”
Radrizzani believes it is in everyone’s interested to travel to Myanmar to give something back to the people.
The trouble is, even if it is in good heart to do so, it is another PR disaster that has led to the club gaining more bad publicity.
In February, Thomas Christiansen was relieved of his role as Head Coach with Radrizzani stating it to be a “mistake” to have hired him with the club just outside the playoffs.
He was then replaced with Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom who has now taken the club to rock bottom of the form table with one game to go with even relegated Sunderland in better form, so I am not sure what he currently classes this appointment to be.
I am not saying it is 100% fair on Heck who has not had a full season of course but if only his tenure as boss counted Leeds would be bottom of the table.
Fans can say what they like about the ability of Leeds’ squad but at the end of the day the club was just outside the playoffs it is not that bad a team so to say that it should be in relegation form which is totally unacceptable and the fingers need to be pointed somewhere.
It would not be exaggerative to suggest that the vast majority of Leeds fans want a replacement next season and things have not been made better when it has been reported that they are set to sign Capri’s Jerry Mbakogu for £4 million, a striker that has 6 goals in 22 in the Italian second division.
I do not like to discourage players that have not yet been proven but I think at Leeds with the size of the club and where it needs to be that is beyond taking risks on players and despite domestic based players generally costing more I think more value for money could be granted elsewhere than a player that is struggling to score in Serie B.
To say the least, I am sure it will be another lively summer at Elland Road as Leeds United prepare for next season and time will tell the direction that Andrea takes them in.
The youth is something Leeds fans should be very excited about and may well be the plan instead of overspending.