Watching “Take Us Home”, Amazon Prime’s 6-part documentary that followed the on- and off-field drama of Leeds United’s 2018/19 season, you’d be in the minority if you didn’t feel a range of emotions from reliving the ups and downs; and although the season ended on a major down, it had many ups to revisit.
Whenever the words ‘Leeds United’ are spoken it’s like offering someone Marmite – strong opinions are never in short supply. This prestige presentation from Amazon, narrated by Hollywood star and Leeds fan Russell Crowe, really captured the tangible desire for success and raw passion that all at the Club have for Leeds United, from the squad of players to the boardroom to the groundsman.
What came over very strongly was how much the players care about their own performance and, beyond that, how much they care about each other and the aim of taking Leeds back into the Premier League. You saw the injured players encouraging active players from pitch side or in the dressing room; and vice versa, the healthy players supported and bolstered the spirits of those out injured. The loyalty and drive in the dressing room were very apparent.
When Howard Wilkinson oversaw the Club, he instructed captain Gordon Strachan to organise team activities and bring all the players’ families doing things together. Bonds between teammates and families only strengthen the squad, and you see that in Marcelo Bielsa’s team.
The players must also be praised for the charitable work they do in the community and the work the Leeds United Foundation do, helping those less fortunate in day-to-day circumstances. Those ties with the people of Leeds only help to boost the ambitions the Club has.
Angus Kinnear, United’s managing director, admitted how audacious some of the Club’s moves were. They began in the summer when the board felt it appropriate to release head coach Paul Heckingbottom and approach a coach who had spells at Argentina, Chile, Marseille, Lazio and Athletic Bilbao and who was already a maverick legend. The gamble paid off as Bielsa relished the challenge of achieving what many had failed in doing over the past decade – the challenge of making Leeds United be spoken about for success on the football pitch rather than chaos off it.
In the final stages, the Club’s owner, Andrea Radrizzani, spoke of the 3-year financial performance of the Club and how he or anyone injecting a large cash sum into the transfer funds wouldn’t be allowed under the EFL’s Profit and Sustainability guidance. United is now run within a realistic remit.
The desire to take us ‘home’ is no more evident than in the faces of Bielsa and Radrizzani. Neither will sleep well until Leeds United are in the same league as arch rivals Manchester United and their city rivals Manchester City. We’re not there yet, but the documentary leaves you with plenty of hope for this season.