DEFIANT chairman Andrea Radrizzani says his Leeds United side will return stronger next term after the heartbreak of defeat in the Championship play-offs.
United’s bid to end a 15-year absence from the Premier League came to an abrupt halt with Wednesday’s 4-2 loss at home to Derby County in the play-off semi-final second leg at Elland Road.
Leeds held a 1-0 advantage approaching the tie thanks to Kemar Roofe’s strike in Saturday’s first leg at Pride Park but Derby became the first second tier side to reach a play-off final after losing the first leg at home.
A Leeds side who spent the vast majority of the season in the automatic promotion spots have also become the first second tier side to be top at Christmas and not win promotion with United falling away to finish third.
The Whites had taken the division by storm under Argentinian head coach Marcelo Bielsa until the final throes of the season with Bielsa left facing questions about his future following Wednesday’s defeat.
Bielsa’s contract at Elland Road would have run on for a second season automatically had Leeds been promoted but the terms negotiated with him last summer gave United and Radrizzani the right to renew his deal at the end of each season for up to three years.
The two parties also have a gentleman’s agreement whereby Bielsa will be allowed to leave the club if he is no longer happy to remain as head coach.
Leeds, though, will propose to extend the 63-year-old’s contract and Bielsa will listen to United’s approach.
Sources in Argentina suggest Bielsa is minded on staying with Leeds and having another crack at promotion next season and Radrizzani says his side will be even better equipped next term.
“We don’t stop to believe,” said Radrizzani.
“We work harder to build a modern and successful club.
“Thanks for the amazing support to the fans and thanks to the players, coaches, management and everyone involved at the club for the commitment shown all season. We will be back stronger.”