Leeds United showed no combat as relegation in the Premier League was sealed by a catalog of errors in their thrashing of Tottenham

Rob DawsonReporterMay 28, 2023, 03:45 PM ET4 minutes to read

Leeds, England – Tottenham fans sang “Leeds down again” at their corner of Elland Road. The Leeds United fans at the other end of the stadium briefly considered coming out with their exclusion but joined in instead. Their team was falling apart and they couldn’t deny it.

In a game Leeds needed to win to have any chance of survival, they Lost 4-1 With a barely fighting blink.

Next time Leeds are here, they will play in the Championship, swapping matches against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for games against Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United, and they have only one to blame.

After overcoming the gutter a year ago and only surviving with a win at Brentford on the final day, this season has been riddled with mistakes both on and off the field.

How was Jesse Marsh allowed to continue as manager until February? How was a club record fee wasted on Jorginho Ratter in the January transfer window only for a striker who is barely playing? How did you manage to concede nearly 80 goals in a Premier League season? And how do you go from Marcelo Bielsa to Sam Allardyce – via Marsh and Javi Gracia – in just over a year?

Most of these questions must be answered by owner Andrea Radrizzani, who has restored the club to the division in which it found it six years ago.

Supporters want him gone, and 49ers Enterprises, which owns 44% of the club, wants a full takeover, but the question of who will be in charge of the board next season remains open. “It’s the first thing that needs sorting out” this summer, Allardyce said afterwards. Only then, he said, can a decision be made on who will be the manager and what the team will look like. Allardyce did not rule out staying, although the record of four matches, three defeats and 11 goals conceded did not appeal to him.

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Leeds United players are frustrated after the time being called to their stay in the Premier League.Robbie Jay Barat – AMA / Getty Images

In his post-match press conference, he apologized to the fans but pointed the finger at his players, insisting that the biggest difference between Leeds and Tottenham was “unintentional mistakes”. It was 90 minutes of self-inflicted damage. Even before the match, Allardyce had written in his show notes that Leeds had been “punished for the mistakes we made” and it was no different against Tottenham.

In the first 30 seconds, Weston McKinney made a simple pass, giving the ball to Son Heung-min. Leeds didn’t see it again until they fell 1-0 down, and after watching Pedro Boro jump past Pascal Stroijk to set up Harry Kane, all Allardyce could do was stand on the touchline and shake his head.

As the VAR screened the goal, local fans began chanting in support of Bielsa, the famous former manager who was sacked in 2022. Jack Harrison and Rodrigo got into an argument.

And as if conceding the ball in the first two minutes of the first half wasn’t bad enough, Leeds did it again in the second. Kane wanted the ball more than Liam Cooper, Strojk had a chance to deflect the pass but missed the kick and Boro finished the ball, ending any faint hope of a dramatic Leeds escape.

Long ago, frustration in the stands turned to anger. Chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” were targeted at the players, while Italian broadcast coach Radrizzani was told to “sell the club and get out of the house”.

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Then news of the Everton goal at Goodison Park leaked out, and the first Leeds fans began to walk off the field, more than half an hour before full-time. They missed Harrison pulling a goal back for Leeds, who then, in keeping with a disastrous performance, gifted another to Kane.

Allardyce sadly reflected afterwards “You’d think they might have learned from the first two, but no”.

A Leeds United fan looks on as his team’s relegation to the Championship is over.Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

When an invader swooped in and evaded two strong security personnel before being wrestled to the ground, he was sung by home fans who sang “Record It” and “Show More Fight Than You.” It was hard to argue when Leeds did so little to help themselves.

The fourth goal from Lucas Moura was a great moment for the Brazilian on his last appearance for Tottenham, but it only happened because of Leeds’ woeful defence. Leeds have conceded 157 top-flight goals since the start of last season, more than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues. It’s a statistic that reeks of relegation.

It’s tempting these days to suggest that a team the size of Leeds will return to the Premier League soon, but their fans know better than most that it’s not that simple. The last time they were relegated in 2004, it took them 16 years to get back, and their absence also included three seasons in the third tier of English football.

Leeds has fallen apart, but the question now is how quickly can they be put back together?

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