Monday, December 06, 2021

Now we’ve got a takeover time and price, let’s take interest in the 49ers again - The Square Ball 6/12/21


WELCOME SOURDOUGH SAM

Written by: Moscowhite • Daniel Chapman

The Athletic’s David Ornstein and Phil Hay say the bit by bit investment that 49ers Enterprises, the money-not-football arm growing from throwing-not-kicking club San Francisco 49ers, has a structure to it that we didn’t know about before. While negotiating to get their shareholding up to 37 per cent in January 2021 — since increased to 44 per cent in November — the investors, led by 49ers executive vice president Paraag Marathe and including a cast of tech founders, sport investors, property developers and who knows who but maybe even LL Cool J, sorted out how a full takeover can look. They have a deal to buy 100 per cent of Leeds United and the Elland Road stadium by January 2024 for a price between £400m and £475m. That includes what they’ve already paid, meaning they have to find another £200m or so.

It sounds like they’re gonna, too, and they’re not even going to wait until then. Hay ‘n’ Ornstein’s (Hornstein?) sources say the total buy out ‘is likely to come sooner’. They’re seven per cent from majority control as it is, although I’d still be tempted to buy five per cent and enjoy being the 49ers with 49 per cent for a while. Andrea Radrizzani might retain a small stake when all is done, which makes sense because he seems like a sentimental fella, and also because his big stake has quadrupled in value so far so why wouldn’t he.

Another detail of Hornstein’s report stands out: that if Aser, Radrizzani’s company for all his sports and media interests, buy another football club anywhere on planet earth before January 2024 then it voids the deal with 49ers Enterprises. Presumably if the total 49ers takeover is done before then Radrizzani can do what he likes, and it’s not a non-compete clause (‘don’t buy Salernitana until 2024, give us a chance!’). But I’m also presuming 49ers Enterprises have listened to Radrizzani’s plans for a network of European clubs and decided they’d rather just buy an unfettered Leeds United AFC, thank you very much for the fascinating concept all the same.

The headline is the sale price compared to the purchase price: Radrizzani said his initial investment in Leeds, to get the club off of Massimo Cellino and the stadium out of the British Virgin Islands, was £100m. That was summer 2017. To get the shell of a club Cellino handed over into the Premier League and agree to sell it for more than four times as much, within five years, is not a bad effort for a first timer. A framed portrait of Marcelo Bielsa should have pride of place, I think, on the new coffee table he’ll buy with his profits, but it’s a better look than Ken Bates glaring angrily at plans for the Lowfields motel that was going to make his fortune if only the sickpots and dissidents hadn’t made it all so hard.

The stadium Bates was going to bolt all that hotel and nightclub nonsense onto is a crucial factor in the deal, by being included. Although putting it in control of a separate but related Radrizzani company — Greenfield Investment Pte Ltd in Singapore — made sense based on talk of hideous material influences Gulf Finance House still somehow held/hold over the club’s assets (I bet Salem Patel has the paperwork sewn into his suit), it made for worry about future moves. Would Radrizzani hold onto it and charge rent, or inflate a future purchase price? For good or ill, it looks like it’s all going to the 49ers Enterprises, and given its redevelopment value, getting it chucked in with a Premier League (we hope) football club for under £500m sounds like a good deal for them, while making its ownership easier to track for us.

(Newcastle were sold this season for £305m. Burnley were sold in February for around £170m, although that involved chucking a load of debt on the club.)

With all this heating up, we should probably take even more interest in the 49ers than we have already. They don’t just buy soccer clubs, they’re all to do with a team called the San Francisco 49ers playing slow padded rugby beneath the unforgiving Santa Clara sun. Last time we checked in on the franchise, their fans were pretty miserable about feeling their foreheads glowing in the uncovered cheap seats like they’re sitting inside a chip shop countertop, while the team they travel forty miles from San Francisco to watch wasn’t generating much heat. A win in December 2019 over the LA Rams. A win in October 2020 over the LA Rams. And finally a win in November 2021, over the LA Rams, with Radrizzani there to watch. That’s not a good enough number or variety of home wins for a team the fans think should be going to the Super Bowl!

Under fire head coach Kyle Shanahan and maligned quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo have been having a pretty good time since then, though. Some of the time, anyway. The Niners went to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars and started by kicking the ball through the one-legged rugby posts for three points. Then they gave the ball to their coolest player, Deebo Samuel, who ran to the side and past all the defenders, scoring a touchdown. There was another kick but only for one point and the score was 10-0. Brandon Aiyuk caught a throw from Garoppolo and got more points because he was standing behind the goal line, then both teams kicked three point goals although the Niners’ was better because it was from much further away. Another Garoppolo throw went to George Kittle, who ain’t no kitten the way he grabbed that ol’ pig! That was another touchdown. The fourth quarter got weird as each team kept tackling the other team’s quarterback, and players kept going down injured, so maybe they should wear more padding. Niners did another three point kick, and right at the end the Jaguars, who I don’t think have any connection to British Leyland, barged over for a touchdown, making the final score 30-10 to our guys. A good win, but keep in mind that at time of writing Jacksonville are 2-10 for the season, meaning two wins and ten defeats, and their coach Urban Meyer is grimly holding onto his job despite his carefully cultivated self-image as a family man eroding when he was filmed flirting with a woman not his wife in a bar, and his players reportedly laughed behind his back when his attempted apology claimed she was ‘just there dancing’ and her backside being in his frontside was just unfortunate for everybody.

That was back to back wins for our brave Nines, but could they do it back home? Well, Santa Clara. The Minnesota Vikings came all the way from Norway for the Thanksgiving matchup, and boy did this game swing! As the fans on the sunny side squinted at a pitch in shade of the posh boxes opposite, Vikings went ahead twice, 49ers got them back twice, so half-time was 14-14. The first Niners score was the best, my man Deebo Samuel getting the ball and just running wide and along the touchline, making the tackling attempts look pretty silly on his way to the downzone, where he did a barrel roll just for kicks. Deebo was doing it again in the second half/third quarter, running 49 yards and pushing people out of his way and skipping around them to help set up a touchdown for himself, from another cute run through the gaps. He’s really good at this game, and he has lots of different celebrations! I like him.

From the restart 49ers intercepted, took the ball straight to the Norse goal line, then scored again for an important 28-14 lead. Gunnar Halle’s boys got a touchdown back, so Santa Clara scored a kick goal, but they let Kene Nwangwu score a 99 yard touchdown just by running through them, the idiots. Norway did their own idiot move, not kicking the conversion even though they took it right in front of the posts. The Niners showed how you kick between the posts and that was the last score, a 36-24 win, and the first time the 49ers had beaten a non-Ram team in Santa Clara since November 24th 2019, also the last time they won back to back home games. Now they’d won three games in a row!

This weekend they were in Seattle against the Seahawks, who had beaten the Niners three times in a row, and fifteen out of the last nineteen times, but only won three games this season, losing eight. We got another bout of topsy turvy scoring in a stadium noted for its rockin’ atmosphere, especially compared to Santa Clara where all anyone screams for is shade and water. The Niners love giving players those long run touchdowns, 77 yards and a forward flip for Travis Homer to goal first. Gimme that 49ers equaliser though, Garoppolo throwing to Kittle from a long way, really hard and he caught it. Elijah Mitchell added another for the Niners, running through loads of people from a couple of yards after good running from Kittle before, and a field goal at the start of the second quarter gave them a 17-7 lead. That’s loads of points, this game was in the bag! Seahawks scored after a cool long throw was caught a yard from the line then Adrian Peterson just ran the ball in from there, but Kittle also scored from miles away, the edges of his toes on the out-of-bounds line as he ran to goal, to restore the lead, almost — the extra point kick hit the post so they lost that point. And then damn these Seahawks, or maybe damn these 49ers who kept giving away ‘personal fouls’ so the Ocean Kestrels moved up the pitch and scored, then something called a ‘safety’ gave them two points for tackling Garoppolo in the endzone. It didn’t look very safe to me, they grabbed him and threw him on the floor! I guess this is why Niners fans want hip young Trey Lance in the team instead of old Garoppolo. Now it was 23-23, and it got worse. On a first down, meaning there were still plenty of downs to move the ball ten yards forward, Garoppolo threw the whole thing straight to an Air-Narwhal guy, and they ended up throwing a loopy shot into the touchdown bit for a goal, making this a 23-30 defeat. The camera cut to Garoppolo sitting on the bench, looking pretty miserable in a bobble hat. He must have been missing, like I was, Deebo Samuel, who couldn’t play because of a groin strain. Also Trenton Cannon got knocked unconscious and went away in am ambulance. I don’t know what a running back does but it can’t have helped things. With eighteen seconds left an almost-touchdown pass by Garoppolo was inches away from equalising, but a Seahawk beak clipped the ball away.

“You do all this, good, bad, indifferent, whatever it is,” said Garoppolo, “and that whole football game comes down to one play at the end.” Sounds a lot like Leeds, man. Except we score.

We also have some quotes from coach Kyle Shanahan. “We’re very frustrated,” he said. “We felt we had a lot of self-inflicted stuff that isn’t always caused by the other team. I’m not taking anything away from them, but we thought we had an opportunity at the beginning of the game. It really felt like we were ready to go.” Also Deebo wasn’t there, Kyle, I think you missed Deebo. Just put it down to Deebo and move on! Or, talk about your quarterback. “He did some good things,” he said about Garoppolo. “Those two picks [interceptions] weren’t good plays. He’s gotta get better with the ball.” Some observers felt that last time I wrote about the Niners I was being unfair comparing Shanahan to Paul Heckingbottom, as a young coach with a good reputation thrust into his first big job (I did at least say Shanahan has ‘done some stuff’). But we’re not far from hearing Shanahan talking about Garoppolo without the ball, here. As far as the fans are concerned, though, it’s Joffy time. Sorry, Trey Lance time. Same thing.

This makes the 49ers season record won six lost six, leaving them 7th in the National Football Conference (not sponsored by Vauxhall to my knowledge), in the last of three wild card places that would get them into the post-season play-offs where they want to be, I think. They’re only 1-4 in some tiny league called NFC West and that affects things? It’s really confusing, and people say they’ll probably only lose in the play-offs, so to sum them up they’re at the point where people are saying that with injuries and not much to play for they should get Eddie Gray in, play the kids, and build for next season. Anyway, right now they’re getting what you get for winning six and losing six. At least they won’t get relegated!

San Francisco 49ers 'to buy Leeds United in FULL by the start of 2024' - Mail Online 6/12/21

San Francisco 49ers 'to buy Leeds United in FULL by the start of 2024 - with Elland Road included in a buy-out which could be worth £475MILLION to owner Andrea Radrizzani'

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani bought the club for £45m back in 2017

The value has shot up but the investment arm of the NFL team is to take control

49ers Enterprises is set to secure a full buy-out of the club by January 2024

The Premier League takeover could reportedly be worth as much as £475m

The York family, who own the 49ers franchise, are worth $4billion

By KIERAN JACKSON

San Francisco 49ers are reportedly set to assume full control of Leeds United by the start of 2024 in a deal worth more than £400m.

The investment arm of the NFL franchise - 49ers Enterprises - has an option to take 100 per cent control of the club by January 2024 in a deal which would include ownership of Elland Road.

A deal for a full buy-out in excess of £400m was struck in January this year, when the 49ers' stake went up to 37 per cent, but now The Athletic has revealed that a deal which could be worth as much as £475m is set to be completed in just over two years' time.

The report also details that a buy-out could come sooner than January 2024, which is the current deadline.

The 49ers are owned by American billionaire Denise DeBartolo York, 71, and her family, who own over 90 per cent of the franchise which is now worth $3.5 billion.

York's father Edward Debartolo Sr bought the team in 1977 but Denise took control in 2001.

Her son, Jed, is now the CEO of the 49ers - the York family are worth $4 billion as of June 2021 according to Forbes.

Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani bought the club in 2017 for £45m but following their promotion to the Premier League in 2020, the value of the club has shot up. 

The Italian sold a 10 per cent stake to 49ers Enterprises in 2018 but that has risen since to a 44 per cent stake.

Radrizzani explained last month that the partnership with the 49ers could be fundamental in helping Leeds try and force their way back towards the top of the English game.

'Now we are partnered with 49ers, this is fundamentally very important because it will be very difficult to stay in the Premier League, but if we stay in it this year I think we can go much more than last year and go into the top six,' the Italian said at the Web Summit event in Lisbon.

'Start to renovate the stadium and continue to grow the value of this club.'

Marcelo Bielsa led Leeds back to the top-flight after their relegation in 2004 - the club are currently 14th in the Premier League following a 2-2 draw at home to Brentford on Sunday.

Timing is everything for Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United - Graham Smyth's Verdict on 2-2 draw with Brentford - YEP 6/12/21


Timing was everything for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United on Sunday.

By Graham Smyth

The Argentine has made it his mission to keep his men focused solely on the present but the quartet of games looming large after the visit of Brentford has been difficult to ignore.

Trips to Chelsea and Manchester City, a home game against Arsenal and a Boxing Day visit to Liverpool, a sequence of fixtures from which any points at all would be a bonus, added urgency to the Elland Road meeting with Thomas Frank’s Bees.

This was the last of a mini series of contests with teams considered much more natural rivals for Leeds, teams they can regard as beatable.

A draw at Brighton and Tuesday’s win over Crystal Palace set them up nicely to make it seven points from nine, which would give the Premier League a much kinder look before four ‘big-six’ encounters.

That win over Palace, courtesy of a stoppage-time penalty from Raphinha, and the failure of so many teams to perform consistently enough to pull away from the Whites during a stuttering start to the season, had kept the table very respectable.

Beating Brentford, who had the disadvantage of playing on Thursday night and a considerable injury list even before star man Ivan Toney tested positive for Covid-19, would have built a very healthy eight-point cushion between the Whites and the drop zone.

Given the festive fixture list, it would have felt very much like Leeds had picked up results and points just in the nick of time. With the buzz of Tuesday’s late drama still lingering in the LS11 air, the return of Luke Ayling to the starting XI and Patrick Bamford to the substitutes’ bench only added to the optimism felt around the ground as kick-off approached.

Getting key players back just in time for a busy, challenging period, was a huge boost, leaving only Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk in Bielsa’s unavailable ranks and giving the head coach a bench with genuine game-changing options and a sense of seniority that has been lacking at times this season.

The sun even shone on Elland Road as the teams emerged for kick-off. It was almost too good to be true.

And a lovely move in the first minute might have given Leeds a dream start, a number of players involved before Junior Firpo attempted to send the ball back to Daniel James instead of shooting, squandering the opportunity and possession.

Brentford, though, began to make life uncomfortable for their hosts without creating much in the way of chances.

The first 15 minutes went by without significant action but the play was concentrated in the Leeds half and the game was in danger of spoiling the mood.

What changed things in Leeds’ favour was an enforced change, Liam Cooper twisting and landing awkwardly as he threw himself into an attempted block and limping off. Bielsa’s initial solution appeared to be Charlie Cresswell, before a change of heart sent Mateusz Klich to hurriedly warm up, only for the head coach to ask for Jack Harrison instead.

Kalvin Phillips moved into the back-three, then out of it again as Bielsa tinkered to find the balance he needed, eventually settling for a defensive line of Ayling, Diego Llorente and Firpo, with the England midfielder in front of them.

Once they settled into their new look, Leeds found it easier to get at the visitors and from 20 minutes onwards they were in command.

The crowd sensed it too, roaring on their pressing forwards and cheering Brentford’s forced errors like goals. Leeds cranked up the pressure but, like Brentford before them, couldn’t add a final ball.

Even when Raphinha, the player most likely and capable of producing magic, had time and space to deliver into the area, he hit the first man, ex-Whites defender Pontus Jansson.

Unfortunately for Jansson his header fell straight back to the feet of the Brazilian and his second cross was deadly, leaving defenders static as Tyler Roberts anticipated it brilliantly to arrive in the nick of time and steer the ball beyond Alvaro Fernandez.

The sound of his name ringing out at both ends of Elland Road must have been so sweet for a player making his 100th appearance without ever fully ascending to fan-favourite status.

It was his first home goal since July 2020 and, with Bamford’s every warm-up on the touchline being cheered to the rafters, somewhat ironically timed. The goal turned up the noise in the stadium and Leeds turned up the heat on the Bees, countering with break-neck pace and clever one-touch football to sweep from one end to the other before Roberts’ searing drive was tipped over by Fernandez.

All of a sudden the Welshman was at the heart of everything, drilling one cross in low and hard from the right to tempt Jansson into an intervention that could easily have ended up in his net, then blasting another in from the left that also begged a touch.

Brentford were looking a bit ordinary, a bit like a Championship team lacking the necessary quality to turn the tide in their favour, and Leeds didn’t have to do too much to stay on top.

They remained in control after the interval, Raphinha’s free-kick headed for the top corner by Ayling only for Fernandez to claw it away.

But the game was to change again and it was an enforced swap for the hosts that did it once more.

What was even worse about Phillips picking up a knock was that his attempt to run it off, having already had treatment, coincided with a Brentford attack down the left. With Leeds’ enforcer behind the play and signalling to the bench that he would have to come off, Rico Henry got the better of Stuart Dallas, Sergi Canos delivered a cross and Shandon Baptiste, in space that Phillips might well have occupied, beat Illan Meslier from the edge of the area.

Klich replaced Phillips, Forshaw dropped into a deeper position and Brentford assumed control, adding a second seven minutes after their first as Canos, who had just missed a back-post sitter of a header, was played in on Diego Llorente’s blindside after a Firpo giveaway, and roofed his shot.

It was Leeds’ turn to look ordinary and, as cries for Bamford grew more and more urgent, Bielsa turned to the striker.

His mere presence wasn’t enough, at first, because Leeds couldn’t get him into the game. It was frustrating, toothless stuff from Leeds and, with Brentford taking a relaxed approach to restarts, Elland Road grew restless.

Numerous offsides, passes cannoning off yellow-socked legs, routes to goal blocked by yellow shirts or poor final balls made it impossible to see where a goal was going to come from, until the 95th minute when Leeds won a corner.

Raphinha fired it in, Ayling flicked it on and there was Bamford to knee it home, off the bar, with the most perfect timing.

This was a game Leeds should have won and a performance that flattered to deceive but, viewed through the lens of last-gasp euphoria, it was a draw that was snatched from the jaws of defeat in the nick of time.

All’s well that ends well and, if that can be said as December gives way to January, Leeds will be fine.

Leeds United 2-2 Brentford: to the end - The Square Ball 5/12/21


GOING FOR IT

Written by: Moscowhite • Daniel Chapman

For fifteen minutes after Tyler Roberts scored the game’s first goal, Leeds United were the team we were expecting in August. For fifteen minutes after Kalvin Phillips joined Liam Cooper by going off injured, Leeds were the team we’ve been watching the last few months instead. For fifteen minutes before the final whistle, Leeds were the team that will, in the end, get themselves out of trouble this season.

During that last spell of United’s attack versus Brentford’s timewasting and defence, Leeds were a team with few peers. I’m not sure how many other sides would be left as open to conceding a third. But without that risk, combined with fitness and desire, other teams don’t get the vital late goals and late points Leeds get in winter with Marcelo Bielsa: from Aston Villa and Blackburn in 2018; from Luton, Reading and Birmingham in 2019; from Everton in 2020 or, moving into spring, Manchester City in 2021. Now Crystal Palace and Brentford, in a week, have been forced into giving up what they wanted to hold, by a team that never settles for what it has.

(Even when it’s winning, but we can discuss that aspect more when that’s happening more.)

My sympathies lean Leeds anyway, but even more so when the long awaited returns of Luke Ayling to the eleven and Pat Bamford to the bench are matched, inside fifteen minutes, by the loss of Cooper then inside an hour by Phillips. It was time for grim laughter when Cooper went down after an innocuous clearance, then actual laughter, from Mateusz Klich, when with his toes on the touchline he was told to turn back because Bielsa had changed his mind about which sub to use. Jackie Harrison was hurriedly dressed and sent on instead, without a single instruction, visibly confused but getting stuck in anyway while Bielsa made his chess moves yell and point by yell and point, making the big grass board look like the inside of his head.

The change didn’t just leave Klich sitting down, but obvious replacement Charlie Cresswell, suggesting Bielsa had seen enough in the first end to end fifteen minutes to think more attackers would mean more goals. The players, if nobody else, seemed at ease with the madness. People do, as I’m sure the players are aware, call their coach El Loco. From the change until ten minutes after half-time, Brentford didn’t have a shot, after taking three before Cooper had to leave. In the fifteen minutes before the break Leeds went over 75% possession. Unconventional as it seemed, this was Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, not the Wish.com knock-off.

Harrison didn’t touch the ball for United’s goal but his presence on the left wing can’t have pleased Brentford’s defenders once they realised Raphinha had gone over there too. One winger at a time, please! Raphinha was out there after failing to swat Charlie Goode on his way out of defence, Tyler Roberts taking over by intercepting their pass on halfway and letting Adam Forshaw bring Raphinha back in, so he and Harrison could get Brentford sweating. Raphinha’s first cross was brilliant, but Pontus Jansson headed it back onto his toe, and now Roberts had arrived as architect in the box, Raphinha delivering the low cross Roberts pointed he wanted, only asking Tyler to finish his end of the bargain. A sliding finish, a calm celebration, just what everybody needed.

United’s domination continued for ten minutes into the second half, clearly a better team than Brentford, ready to win to nil. Which makes what happened after Phillips felt his calf twinge even more frustrating. While Phillips was on the sidelines working out whether he could keep going, Rico Henry went around Stuart Dallas in the corner and his cut back deflected to Shandon Baptiste, right where Phillips would have been marking him. Even his shot into the bottom corner looked spawny, but there was a basic truth involved: marking player for player is harder with one player gone. After Phillips was off and Klich was finally on, Leeds couldn’t resettle, not helped by Ayling spending time off the pitch after blocking a shot with his nose, coming back on, and giving Brentford the ball for an attack that Sergi Canos ended up heading wide at the back post by a Benteke margin. Brentford took advantage of a Junior Firpo mistake when the pressure was mounting. The ball was finally out of United’s box when Firpo gave it back to Brentford by nutmegging Forshaw, and what followed demonstrates why Bielsa loves those high turnovers so much: no sooner had Canos given the ball to Baptiste than he was in the box with Bryan Mbeumo’s pass, shooting past Illan Meslier, as easy as that time he headbutted Gjanni Alioski in the back like a coward and got away with it.

I don’t know how many teams reach this point of defensive disorganisation, then take off another defender and claim a point from there. Off went Firpo, though, replaced by Bamford, to give Brentford’s three huge centre-backs someone bigger than Dan James to deal with. James and Roberts played either side of Bamford, Harrison and Raphinha were on the wings, Dallas and Ayling were overlapping, and Klich was going side to side giving the ball to all of them: the defence was Forshaw, Diego Llorente, and whoever could run back fast enough to help. The attack was led by Raphinha, demanding the ball at all times everywhere, and Harrison and Klich, trying to get over any cross they could, in hope of Bamford. Leeds had three-quarters of the possession but Bamford could hardly get a touch. Those crosses never did find him.

Instead Dallas, sending one from deep, forced goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez to flap the ball away from Ayling in the 94th minute, out for a corner. This should have been routine. Leeds are not good from corners. Brentford have three enormous centre-backs. Meslier had come up, but that was desperation. It all worked though, didn’t it? Raphinha’s corner, Ayling’s front post challenge, a flick on, and Bamford’s second touch in more than ten minutes was everything you want from a striker: a reaction, sending the ball in off his knee, its crossbar kiss the perfect chef’s smacker to fill the void of comprehension while 35,000 people in the ground, and more cringing at home, tried to work out if that ball was really in the net or not. If it wasn’t, then why was Bamford risking his dad’s wrath by whipping his shirt around his head, sliding on the grass, chased by his goalkeeper? Bless Tyler Roberts, emerging from the celebrations and summing up the confusion. “Pat,” he asked, “Was it yours?” Bamford’s “Yes” got a smile and a hug, and that was from all of us.

Delighted with a point? No. Leeds should have beaten Brentford, the difference in quality was clear. The need for league points, at home, was clear too. “Before the game,” Bielsa said afterwards, “it [a draw] wasn’t a good result, after the first half it wasn’t as well. But when the game was finishing we need to value what we got.” It’s possible to absorb the disappointment of Brentford’s two goals because the reason for them was so clear: one scored while Leeds were a player down, the other because reorganising without Phillips, while Ayling went off for a bit too, took too long, despite being a much simpler change — Forshaw dropping back — than the first. “It shouldn’t have been this way,” said Bielsa, but at least that’s a situation with a name rather than a symptom of spiralling relegation. The other aspect is the fightback. It’s hard to win when you’re out of form, but if you can’t win, it’s a good idea to draw. And to draw when others would have looked at Brentford’s timewasting and tactics, when it needs an overload of attackers nobody else would risk, when it takes playing until the very last second without losing hope to do it? That’s a very good attitude for Leeds United to take into their upcoming games.

PATRICK BAMFORD: THE GOAL WAS NICE - Leedsunited.com 5/12/21


Patrick Bamford returned from injury to score a stoppage time goal in the Premier League, at home to Brentford.

Finding the back of the net secured a more than deserved point for the Whites, in a game that was hard-fought on either side throughout.

After being on the sidelines since mid-September, the striker was delighted to return to the pitch and even happier to net a late goal which he feels was important for the team.

Bamford said: “I felt rusty as hell, to be honest!

“It’s always going to be like that for the first few games until you get back up to speed, but it was just nice to get back out there.

“We had a 10 minute spell in that second half were they got the goals and things turned on their head, so it was important we got some sort of result today, especially as the table is so tight at the minute.

“I always felt, that as soon as I came on the pitch, I was going to get one chance. I didn’t for ages and ages, but I thought there was still time left, it’s going to come.

“Adam Forshaw said to me ‘you’re going to get one chance’, and so it happened! The goal was nice, especially because it rescued a point.”

Bamford was asked what his instructions were when he was sent on to the pitch after returning from injury, and specifically how he handled his time out.

He explained: “It was just try and give us a presence in the area, spin behind don’t drop too short too much, try do what you can!

“I just tried to stay in the box as much as I could and hoped to put myself in the right position.

“It’s been frustrating because it is one of those injuries that can drag on. There’s no actual specific time scale it’s all down to the individual.

“It was frustrating because I set my sights on coming back each match for the last six matches, so yeah it was a frustrating period but now I am out of it, it seems it has gone fast. 

“Sometimes when you’re out through injury you become a better player all of a sudden. There probably was a bit of pressure, but I just tried to do what I normally do."

Video - Leeds United 2 Brentford 1 5/12/01

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Marcelo Bielsa's mixed feelings after Patrick Bamford snatches late point for Leeds United against Brentford - YEP 5/12/21


The dramatic timing of Leeds United's equaliser against Brentford left Marcelo Bielsa valuing one point, from a game he felt should have brought three.

By Graham Smyth

Leeds took the lead midway through the first half when Raphinha's cross was converted by Tyler Roberts, but a pair of goals in a six-minute second half period swung the game in Brentford's favour.

With Kalvin Phillips struggling to run through injury, the Bees attacked down the Leeds left and when the ball came into the middle it was dispatched by Shandon Baptiste. Sergi Canos darted into the area to take a pass on Diego Llorente's blindside to score the visitors' second.

Leeds huffed and puffed without creating chances in the final stages until a 95th minute corner was flicked on by Luke Ayling and crashed in off the bar by Patrick Bamford.

The nature of the equaliser and the wild celebrations it sparked left Leeds with a better taste in their mouths, but Bielsa still felt they were worth more than a point.

"To have drawn the game the way we did changes the flavour," he said.

"But if you look at the game in its general context, we should have won it. We conceded the first part of the game, but without conceding any goals. From the initial 15 minutes onwards we had a good half an hour. We started the second half well and we had incomings and outgoings like Ayling and Phillips where we were a few moments without them. Kalvin went back on and came back off, that made us lose organisation but it shouldn't have been this way. In those 15 minutes in the second half we did receive the goals. But the final 15 minutes, with a lot more difficulties but a lot of perseverance to attack, I think we ended up getting a result that was fair on one side and insufficient if you look at the whole game.

"We dominated two thirds of the game and we duplicated the amount of dangerous situations we had, compared to the opponent."

Brentford's second goal had an element of misfortune where Leeds were concerned. Phillips had gone off having required treatment for a knock and attempted to come back on and play but was soon waving to the bench to signal he had a problem. He was left trailing behind the play as Brentford went and put the ball and the net.

"Yes it had an influence [on the goal]," said Bielsa.

"Which isn't to say we shouldn't be in condition to play with one man less at times."

The game saw the return of both Luke Ayling and Bamford, the former from the start in a back three and the latter off the bench in the second half.

"Ayling had a satisfactory game, Patrick scored a goalscorer's goal," said the head coach.

"The sector of the pitch [Bamford] came on in, it was difficult to find the ball but finally he gave us the equaliser that for our expectations is very valuable, given how we got it. Before the game it wasn't a good result, after the first half it wasn't as well but when the game was finishing we need to value what we got. The players that are used to scoring normally they're in the right place at the right moment. What you value about the score is the opportunism of it."

Bielsa had no updates on the injuries sustained by Phillips and Liam Cooper, who hobbled off after a quarter of an hour having fallen awkwardly in his penalty area, but says Pascal Struijk is in the final stages of his recovery from a hip issue.

Leeds 2 Brentford 2 - BBC 5/12/21


Patrick Bamford returned from injury to score a stoppage-time leveller off the bench for Leeds against Brentford at Elland Road.

Tyler Roberts put the hosts in front at half-time, but two goals either side of the hour from Shandon Baptiste and Sergi Canos almost secured a second win in eight league games for the Bees.

Leeds' own injury issues continued to mount, with captain Liam Cooper hobbling off after 15 minutes to be replaced by Jack Harrison and Kalvin Phillips withdrawn in the second half.

Just shy of the half-hour mark, Roberts, making his 100th appearance for Leeds, opened the scoring. He stayed onside to steer home Raphinha's second cross in quick succession, after the Brazilian's initial effort was cleared by Pontus Jansson.

Luke Ayling, returning to the side after more than two months out, almost doubled the hosts' lead moments after the restart, heading Raphinha's free-kick towards the top corner only for Alvaro Fernandez to deny him with an acrobatic save.

Brentford levelled through Baptiste on 54 minutes, reacting quickest after Canos' cross was deflected, and placed a finish past Illan Meslier from the edge of the area.

The momentum changed and seven minutes later the turnaround was complete. Moments after missing a great opportunity Canos fired the Bees ahead, combining with Bryan Mbeumo before lashing home.

Bamford struck deep into added time, scrambling home a corner from close range to save Leeds' blushes.

Leeds' blushes saved despite second-half collapse

As well as both Cooper and Phillips to injury, Leeds lost their composure in a difficult second-half spell that almost proved costly.

At the break it had looked like there would only be one winner, with Brentford having lost striker Ivan Toney to a positive Covid-19 test prior to kick-off and lacking presence without him.

But after Ayling's header, something stirred inside Thomas Frank's men. They levelled and then took the lead in a flash, but squandered other chances in the interim. Leeds didn't know what had hit them.

Raphinha's impact dwindled as Bamford was summoned, and after a late victory over Crystal Palace in midweek there was another twist when the England forward popped up at the death after 11 weeks out.