Leeds United can learn from Southampton and chase Champions League

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In the not too distant past, hearing that Leeds United would have beaten a South Coast club would not have come as a great shock. The ever consistent top five Whites would usually have been comfortably beating the lower mid-table Southampton.

So, if you had been in a coma since that time to wake up this week, you would be a little confused to find Bournemouth being considered the great scalp for the Yorkshire club - they were third tier fodder back then.   

Vintage Days

In the 2001/2002 Premier League season; Leeds United, managed by David O'Leary and with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane, Alan Smith, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell in their squad, did a league double over the Saints who would go-on to finish 11th. Matt Le Tissier was still strutting his stuff in those days. 

2015 is a different world though, and football has changed. However, until recently, the fortunes of both Leeds and Southampton had taken very similar turns. 

The Elland Road outfit were relegated in 2004, while Southampton followed a year later. Both clubs lost their greatest assets.

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League One Days

Things would get worse though. Both of these former top flight mainstays found themselves eventually in the third tier of English football - both with hefty points deductions having suffered financial meltdown.  From their last Premier League meeting in January 2004, in the 2009/2010 season - they met in League One together.

To be fair, that was the season that the Whites made the step back into the Championship, one level off their rightful place in the top division. However, they are still yet to make that next step. The club have stagnated and are in danger of slipping again.

Did Southampton stagnate? - Of course we know that they didn't. Since their League One meeting with Leeds - the club had two successive promotions, stayed up in their Premier League return and will now be disappointed to miss out on the Champions League at the end of the season.

The Difference?

How have things been so different?

You have to look at the decision making. Leeds have made some awful choices, their club has been in the hands of the wrong people and they have wasted their money in the wrong places. 

Southampton were a mess too, but their clubs was in the hands of the right people and they made some cracking decisions.

Look at their summer sale, I don't think it is any coincidence that Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers came to prominence when they did. The Saints started building from the bottom and the youth and are now seeing those results. Don't forget the other youngsters past and present who all experienced the lows, but helped them out again. Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and now the likes of James Ward-Prowse and Morgan Schneiderlin - all success stories.


Leeds, in fairness, have had opportunities to do the same. Fabian Delph, Jermaine Beckford and Robert Snodgrass - they had great young players but they never invested their fees in the right places or continue that youth growth. They certainly have the chance now though.

With Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Sam Byram in their squad, they have assets. They could sell them or play them - it doesn't matter. But they cannot complement those players with experienced foreign nobodies who have no real desire to play in the Championship.

Make the right decisions and Leeds genuinely can get back to where they want to be. It really isn't all doom and gloom and positive-thinking is a must.

I remember when Leeds were a great side, nowadays they are known as an embarrassment. It can all change though, this is their opportunity, the next few years are crucial.

How long will it be before Leeds v Southampton is a Premier League clash again? 

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Leeds United
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