From Paralysis to Progress: The 49ers' Impact on Leeds United – are the bookies odds right to make them second favourite

18 Feb 2024 07:17 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Leeds United are now second favourites in the soccer odds to achieve promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Leeds seemed to be in a state of paralysis for most of this summer as we eagerly awaited the much-anticipated takeover. Early June saw the club confirm an agreement had been reached between Aser Ventures and 49ers Enterprises for the purchase of the club but it wasn’t until July that The Football League officially approved the sale and work could begin.

Paraag Marathe, previously a Vice Chairman and Board member of the club, stepped into the role of Leeds United Chairman. Rudy Cline-Thomas also joined the board as Co-Owner and Vice Chairman. Rudy is the founder and Managing Partner of MASTRY, an alternative asset manager focused on Venture Capital, Sports, Real Estate, and Media. Furthermore, lifelong Leeds United supporter Peter Lowy remained on the board.

Managerial appointment

The first job of the summer was to sort out the mess left by the previous regime. If Leeds were to have any chance in the soccer odds at promotion back to the Premier League, things had to be sorted out quickly. There was no manager in place following the disastrous appointments of Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce. Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta’s ‘bold’ appointments had failed to pay off, with one notable exception, if the 49ers were to see their plan for promotion back to the Premier League fulfilled they needed to make the right choice.

Daniel Farke may have been seen as something as a safe choice, but it felt like the right choice. With two previous promotions to the Premier League under his belt, the German had the right pedigree behind him. Walking into Thorp Arch this summer was no simple job, relegation and the resulting contractual issues meant upheaval and a threadbare squad, but Farke handled the situation with dignity and resolve.

It’s gone pretty well on the pitch too with Leeds sitting in third place, achieving a greater points return after 30 games than Marcelo Bielsa managed in our promotion season.

On the pitch investment

Loan and release clauses meant the squad was practically decimated this summer. Rodrigo, Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Jack Harrison, Robin Koch, Rasmus Kristensen, Diego Llorente, Marc Roca, Luis Sinisterra and Max Wober all leaving on permanent or loan deals. Some may say good riddance, but the gaps left in the squad which needed to be filled were huge.

With a huge task on their hands the 49ers were targeted and measured in their transfer business. Gone was the seemingly scanner gun approach, bringing in promising but unproven youngsters or players who promised a lot but were failing to live up to their talent. Joel Piroe was brought in to provide much needed options up front, Jow Rodon to firm up the defence and an entirely new midfield of Ethan Ampadu, Ilia Gruev and Glen Lamara was assembled.

Sam Byram, perhaps the surprise of the summer, provides options at wing back whilst Karl Darlow brings experience to the goalkeeping team. Perhaps the only misstep was Djed Spence who has been replaced by the experienced and versatile Connor Roberts this window. All in all the 49ers had a pretty successful first window and despite calls for more have probably done the business they needed to in January.

Off the pitch changes

With Victor Orta gone the recruitment department needed some focus. Nick Hammond, who had previously done a good job at Newcastle United, was brought in as a transfer advisor and was influential in the early deals. Gretar Steinsson was thein appointed Technical Director with the department further bolstered this month with the appointment of Jordan Miles as head of recruitment. With the way player recruitment has worked out so far, you have to say they are doing a good job.

Marathe's approach to data and analytics has been a hallmark of his career and we have seen that with the executive appointments made at Elland Road. Morrie Eisenberg arrived in October having previously worked for the San Francisco 49ers, Tesla and a number of high profile Silicon Valley tech firms. Eisenberg has a proven record of business operations and use of analytics and was a key player in delivering and opening the Levi’s Stadium.

Robbie Evans also joined the club as Chief Strategy Officer towards the end of last year. He also has a background in analytics, most recently employed by genetic testing firm Invitae, and he will look to help the 49ers significantly expand the use of data at Leeds in recruitment, matchday performance and medical treatment. Evans will also be charged with increasing the clubs commercial revenues.

Overall it’s gone pretty well for the 49ers so far. The level of investment will always be questioned by the fans, but whether it is lack of funds or FFP constraints that have limited investment so far the 49ers have done a good job with the resources they have. Daniel Farke feels more and more like the natural successor to Marcelo Bielsa and the squad feels stronger than it did last season. Premiership football is the ultimate goal and whilst the league is competitive with Leicester and Southampton, Leeds remain in a strong position to challenge for the automatic promotion places in the coming months.

What is certain is that the 49ers real plans for the club cannot be truly realised until we are promoted. The global stage of the Premier League allows for fantastic increases in commercial revenues and opportunities to marked the club beyond its current base, particularly in the United States.