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Leeds: Ken Bates committed a blunder with Bradley Johnson

Marcelo Bielsa ended Leeds United’s 16-year wait for a return to the Premier League when he led the Whites to promotion in the 2019/20 campaign.

The Argentine head coach needed two seasons in charge to successfully end their run of almost two decades in the Championship or League One and they have remained in the top-flight ever since, with Jesse Marsch now at the helm.

They were in the third tier of English football for three seasons between 2007 and 2010 and Simon Grayson was the man who managed to bring them back up to the second division.

He led them to a second-placed finish in the 2009/10 campaign and then finished seventh in their first season back in the Championship in 2010/11.

Grayson enjoyed a successful spell at Elland Road during this period but was let down by former owner Ken Bates in the summer of 2011 when it came to dealing with Bradley Johnson’s situation.

The central midfielder was a huge part of the team in the two aforementioned seasons. He played 36 times in the League One promotion and chipped in with seven goals and three assists from the middle of the park, before managing five goals and four assists in 45 outings in the second tier.

However, he was out of contract at the end of 2010/11 and Bates refused to play ball with the midfielder over an extension, with Johnson explaining: 

“It was time to negotiate a new contract and I said ‘I want to earn what this guy’s earning or the same as what this kid’s earning’. Ken Bates was just like ‘nope, this is what we’re offering’, so I didn’t sign it. It got ugly towards the end with the chairman, but the fans understood.”

He ended up departing that summer and he eventually left on a free transfer, joining then-manager Paul Lambert’s Norwich Cith. This turned out to be a huge blunder by the club as Johnson went on to be a big player for the Canaries for a number of years and made them a hefty profit when he left East Anglia.

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Johnson, who Paul Clement once dubbed “invaluable“. played 97 Premier League matches in his first three years at Norwich and produced six goals and nine assists from central midfield.

He then enjoyed a phenomenal campaign in the Championship in 2014/15 as the machine found the back of the net 15 times in 41 games as he helped his side to win promotion back to the top-flight, winning the club’s Player of the Year award.

Norwich then opted to cash in on the Englishman by selling him to Derby County in the summer of 2015. They raked in £6m from the Rams for his signature, which was a sizeable payday for the Canaries given that he arrived at Carrow Road on a free transfer from Leeds four years prior to that.

Therefore, Bates committed a blunder with Johnson as Leeds missed out on enjoying his superb talent on the pitch in those years, along with a multi-million compensation for his services further down the line.