Leeds United’s stop-start season needs to get going soon
Leeds United still haven’t really got their season going yet, and they’re now sailing close to ending up in a relegation fight.
It was, as the vernacular would have it, a true game of two halves. For 45 minutes at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Leeds United broadly outplayed Spurs and were completely deserving of their half-time lead. By full-time, though, the result had reversed. Two second-half goals won the game for Spurs after what was presumed to be the application of some half-time rockets by Antonio Conte, and Leeds were left where they were before; in 17th place in the Premier League, just above the relegation places and with only Burnley and Newcastle United having won fewer games so far this season.
Leeds United have a history of making a splash upon promotion to the top flight. When they were promoted into the First Division in 1964, they finished as runners-up in their first season and became the champions of England for the first time in 1969. When they returned in 1990, they finished in fourth place at the first attempt and became the champions in 1992. Last season, they finished in ninth place, a highly creditable performance for a newly promoted team in the Premier League of 2021.
But what may be instructive about Leeds’ current situation is what happened after their 1992 First Division title. That time around, their defence of the title was one of the weakest ever seen in English football. After winning just one of their last ten matches, Leeds finished their 1992/93 season in 17th place in the table, just two points above the relegation places. If anything, their second season back in the Premier League is starting to look a little like this, when the biggest cause for celebration was their defeat of Manchester United’s Class of 92 team in the FA Youth Cup final. Otherwise, their season was defined by the sale of Eric Cantona to Manchester United and defensive woes which saw them end the season with 31 points fewer than they’d managed the year before.
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