Leeds United v Swansea City: Blackpool heartache spurs on new Leeds signing

THE elevation of Blackpool to the Premier League has, by common consensus, been English football's good news story of the year.

Just don't tell Leeds United full-back Fede Bessone.

The 26-year-old will today line-up against former club Swansea City for the first time since swapping Wales for Elland Road on a free transfer during the summer.

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Bessone is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with old friends, the Argentina-born defender having spent two years at the Liberty Stadium.

Lining up against so many familiar faces, however, will also bring back dark memories of last Spring when a wobble in form – the Swans won just two of their final 11 games – allowed Blackpool to nip in and claim the final play-off place before going on to clinch promotion via the play-offs.

Clearly still bristling at the memory of finishing just a point behind the Seasiders, Bessone told the Yorkshire Post: "Swansea were a team who played good football.

"At times, we were like Barcelona at home last season. Even (eventual champions) Newcastle could not match the football we were playing.

"But our problem was we didn't score enough goals. We had good strikers and we played the best football in the Championship but we just couldn't score.

"We were in the top six until the last two games. We then lost at Sheffield United but still had a chance on the final day.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't (beat Doncaster) and Blackpool finished sixth. After that, I didn't want to know about football any more.

"It was very, very hard, especially as I could not play in the last game so could not help my team-mates.

"I didn't find out Blackpool had been promoted until later in the summer. I had gone home to Spain and it was my friends who were still here who told me.

"I could not believe it. The news just made me feel worse. I didn't want to hear it. Leeds must get promoted this year to make up for it."

With Bessone looking for salvation via promotion, Leeds have, at least, made a promising start with a seven-point haul leaving Simon Grayson's side sitting sixth in the formative table.

Bessone has started all four of United's Championship fixtures, plus the Carling Cup encounters with Lincoln City and Leicester City.

The first to play down his performances – "I could have played better," being the full-back's verdict this week – the one-time Barcelona B player nevertheless retains the belief his form will improve as he gets used to new surroundings.

Bessone said: "I found it difficult at first in Swansea. In my first game, I went in for a tackle and broke my rib. I also didn't speak any English at all.

"If you went to Spain and didn't speak Spanish it would be difficult for you.

"Life was very different and the weather was rubbish. It was raining all the time and that made me sad. But it got better and my second year was a lot happier."

Bessone had the option to stay with today's visitors to Elland Road after being offered a new contract by the Welsh club.

The lure of Leeds, however, proved too much as he signed a three-year deal with a club whose striker, Luciano Becchio, he already knew due to the pair having both been born in the Argentinian town of Cordoba.

United's full-back said: "Swansea offered me a new deal but, in life, you have to take the opportunities when they come along. I spoke with my parents and my girlfriend and decided to join Leeds. I remembered Leeds from when they lost to Valencia in the Champions League semi-finals. (Gaizka) Mendieta was one of my favourite players and he did well in that game."

As for his new life in West Yorkshire, Bessone added: "I am living in the city centre and enjoying it. Everything is close to me and it seems a great place to live.

"Last weekend was the first time I have been recognised, when I was out shopping. I have only played six games so far but it did make me happy.

"In terms of the football, we have won our last two games and have improved a lot. The division is not as hard as last year when Newcastle had a lot of money, and West Brom and Middlesbrough also deserved to be in the Premier League.

"We are a big club and I think we can win promotion."

Leeds Utd v Swansea City

Team news: Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter both returned to training this week but will not be considered for a first-team recall until they have at least come through a reserve team outing. Ross McCormack did play 90 minutes for the second-string in midweek but is likely to have to be content with a place on the bench. Patrick Kisnorbo is out until the festive period.

Last six games: Leeds United LWDWLW, Swansea City LWWLWW.

Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).

Last time: Leeds United 2 Swansea City 0; September 22, 2007; League One.

SkyBet odds: Leeds to win 6-5, Swansea to win 23-10, Draw 9/4.