NEW Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen is backing himself to be a success at Elland Road - and is targetting a promotion push with his new club in 2017-18.
The 44-year-old former APOEL Nicosia boss was unveiled as United’s eighth head coach in just over three years this afternoon. He has signed a two-year deal with an option of a third year.
Director of football Victor Orta confirmed that Christiansen has brought in own backroom staff - including Julio Banuelos, his assistant at APOEL and AEK Larnaca.
Orta also confirmed that the existing backroom staff of assistant head coach Pep Clotet, first-team coach James Beattie and goalkeeping coach Daryl Flahavan will be leaving the club.
Christiansen admitted that working in England with United represents a dream come true and has promised a flexible approach in terms of his tactics in his first campaign in English football.
Christiansen, who says he has analysed all of the existing players at Leeds and conveyed his views to club bosses during his presentation, said: “I am in at a big club with ambition. One of the things that inspired me to come here was that after having the talk with Victor, the president (Andrea Radrizzani) and Ivan (Bravo), it is a family club and a big club who deserve to be in the Premier League. I believe with good work we can achieve that.
“On the league, even though I am Spanish, I have followed the English league since I was a boy. I know how they play with direct play and a 4-4-2. I will try and put my ideas onto the pitch and bring that to the players to dominate games and have control of it. This is progress I have to show. But I am very excited and believe we can do good things.
“I believe in my possibilities and that is why I am here. Leeds also believe in my abilities and we all want the same and arrive in the best condition at the end of the season.
“Last year, they finished seventh and at least promotion should be there (an ambition) and we are hoping to do better.
“I will be new in this league, but I am very flexible. I have my ideas of how I want to play, but I have to adapt to different circumstances and the league and the players we have in this squad and of course, the opponent.”
I believe in my possibilities and that is why I am here. Leeds also believe in my abilities and we all want the same and arrive in the best condition at the end of the season.Thomas Christiansen
On how the move transpired, Christiansen added: “It started some time ago. I finished with APOEL and through my agent, I had some contact with Victor and they said there could be a possibility. I waited until they called me and said to have a meeting. A few days after the meeting, we came to an agreement.
“The most important thing is that you know where you are going and what you want to propose at the new club and that you have an idea of work. That was what I presented to the president and Victor and everyone. I presented my ideas in how I saw the team and what I wanted to try to do in the presentation. It looked like they liked it.”
The appointment of Christiansen may have represented a shock announcement on Thursday, with the former Barcelona, Hanover and Bochum not even figuring in the betting, but the club insist that he ticked all of the boxes they were seeking.
Orta said: “When we received the surprise news of the resignation of Garry Monk, we decided to take our time to chose the candidates. It is not easy as a lot of coaches offer different styles and we put on a list what we wanted in a head coach - style, modernity, a hard worker and someone with ambition.
“He understood that Leeds was the opportunity for him, not just one opportunity. We analysed a lot of people in the process and had a lot of interviews with other managers because it is our obligation.
“But we finished the meeting (with Christiansen) and all had a chat and decided that he was the right person at this moment to arrive at this big club.”