Why Leeds United will not follow same path as Sheffield United

A report from Brand Finance this week had Leeds United entering their annual 50-strong list of world football’s biggest brands.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa: Built wisely.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa: Built wisely.

Metrics like the Brand Strength Index are not much more than a bit of fun for academics. “Brand strength” did not decide last week’s FA Cup final, and Manchester City won the Premier League without having to top that table.

Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United will watch two smaller “brands” contest next week’s European Cup final. It was the whole point of the protests against a breakaway European league.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Nevertheless, it adds to the feeling Leeds are on the verge of building something lasting.

Ten months ago, a newly-promoted Yorkshire side finished in the top-half of the Premier League playing exciting, refreshing football. Now the only thing that has changed in those respects is the identity of the team.

Sheffield United’s dramatic collapse and relegation since are a warning to Leeds. Complacency – Marcelo Bielsa called it “vanity” – can be a club’s downfall, as can overstretching to try to keep up or run before you can walk.

The Blades fell between the two stools, making some signings that were expensive by their standards, but to Chris Wilder’s frustration not enough to keep up with the Joneses.

Leeds feel as though they are on firmer foundations. Whilst it might not bring trophies, that “brand” potentially gives access to some of the money the Blades lacked. In Victor Orta they have a sporting director with a history of seeing it is spent wisely, and in Andrea Radrizzani a chairman who understands the importance of bringing the public along.

Leeds made four key high-quality signings last summer to bridge the gap from Championship to Premier League and a similar policy in the coming months can keep them moving forward again.

Their big challenge will be the dreaded life after Bielsa but following the Blades’ path for a second season running is not a massive concern.