2010 couldn’t have started much better for Leeds. An impressive display at Old Trafford yesterday earned them a well-deserved FA Cup victory over United, and they will have a another chance at White Hart Lane next month to repeat the feat against Tottenham. Added to that they are tearing League 1 apart this season and look set to earn promotion to the Championship and put themselves just one step away from the Premier League. So it looks like the Ken Bates revolution is finally taking shape at Elland Road, and his dream of taking Leeds back to the top of English football is well under way.
The fall from grace Leeds suffered during the last decade is well-documented and is something their fans will not wish to dwell on. So upon the arrival into a new decade, Leeds United are well and truly looking to the future and daring to dream that good times lie ahead once more. The defeat of their rivals yesterday shows that the Yorkshire club’s revival is progressing nicely and optimism has returned to Elland Road. Even though it was only a one off game, the result illustrates that Leeds are heading in the right direction and that the fans will get what they deserve in the near future for sticking with their beloved club. But how much of their success can be attributed to the man at the very top, the Leeds Chairman Ken Bates?
Ken Bates isn’t exactly the most liked man in English football, but his accomplishments with Chelsea during his twenty one year spell with the Stamford Bridge club deserve respect. Controversy is never far from Bates and he consistently rubs people up the wrong way, nevertheless his part in Chelsea’s success shouldn’t be completely overshadowed by the investment made by Roman Abramovic. After being out of the game for less than a year, Bates became Chairman of Leeds in 2005 in what has to be one final foray into football for the 78 year old businessman. Four years into his reign at Leeds and Bates has been a busy man having already led them through administration and now the fans are starting to appreciate the efforts of Bates.
Bates’ attitude is refreshing and his no-nonsense approach sits well with Leeds’ fans. Earlier this season he told The Telegraph that “I’m not interested in popularity. I’m just interested in Leeds’s success.” And that success may be just around the corner as a re-invigorated Leeds have far too much quality to their opponents this season. Simon Grayson is the fourth permanent manager under Bates and for Grayson to step down a division and leave Blackpool shows how highly regarded Leeds are across the country. Local lad Grayson has won over two thirds of his matches so far and a comfortable lead in the league means that the League 1 title is already theirs to lose. Possibly more important is the fact that Leeds are now stable financially thanks to the efforts of Bates, and his revolution at Elland Road appears to be well under way.
There is no way in knowing what the future will hold for Leeds, but if they take it step by step, then surely their return to the Premier League will come sooner or later. Much attention has been given to Jermaine Beckford and the striker is attracting interest from Newcastle amongst others, but their success runs much deeper than one player. Whether Beckford leaves in January or not, Leeds should be nailed on for promotion and they will up for the challenge that the Championship holds. Manager Grayson should take much of the credit, but the efforts of Chariman Ken Bates should also be recognised as he is excelling in his final challenge in English football. The defeat of Man United emphasised the burning passion that Leeds still have and that stands them in good stead for the future, but how long will it be before Leeds are back in the top flight once again?