Thomas Christiansen sacking underlines changing expectations at Leeds United
- 5th February 2018
Leeds United are looking for their 11th permanent manager in six years after sacking Thomas Christiansen following a 4-1 home defeat to Cardiff at the weekend and the table below illustrates how expectations have risen at Elland Road following the Andrea Radrizzani takeover last May.
The Whites are currently 10th in the Championship, seven points off the play-offs but last season’s surprise play-off charge under Garry Monk was the first time in six years they had finished in the top half of the division.
Now Christiansen departs after 30 matches, which is marginally better than the 22-game average that accounted for six different managers during the crazy Massimo Cellino era - but only three different gaffers have had less time to stamp their identity on the team.
The Dane is one of only three managers to have performed better than the overall average since Leeds returned to the Championship in 2010. Monk is the most successful, having eclispsed Simon Grayson’s maiden season at this level, both men recording seventh-placed finishes with 75 and 72 points respectively.
So that’s evidently the benchmark for Radrizzani now and Christiansen was still on course to meet that standard when a Boxing Day win at Burton lifted Leeds up to fifth, with a four-point cushion on eighth-placed Middlesbrough.
However, having already weathered a run a seven defeats in eight matches between late September and early November, the 44-year-old former APOEL Nicosia boss was in no position to withstand another slump of seven matches that yielded only two points from a possible 18 in the league and an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at Newport.
Christiansen will no doubt feel let down by the ill-discipline of his players. Key man Samuel Saiz picked up a six-match ban for spitting in that cup exit at Rodney Parade, which was the first of four red cards in the last five outings.
In the last two matches at Elland Road, against Millwall and Cardiff, defenders Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi were both sent off inside 45 minutes when United were already trailing and though they did threaten an incredible comeback against the Lions, they ultimately fell to humbling four-goal defeats on both occasions.
With Saiz and Cooper still banned for the next two matches and Pontus Jansson potentially facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after being stretchered off early on against the Bluebirds, it seemed highly unlikely that Christiansen would be turning a corner in the next few weeks. So we shouldn't really be surprised that Radrizzani decided to pull the trigger.