Leeds United have been making strides this season under the tenure of Garry Monk in their bid to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004. The Whites were relegated from the top flight over a decade ago, dropping even as far as the third tier of English football.
The club have gone through several managers and ownership changes in their time away from the Premier League, resulting in a lack of stability at Elland Road. However, the appointment of Monk appears to have moved the Whites in the right direction, despite their defeat to Championship high-flyers Newcastle United.
As a result of their solid start to the campaign, the oddsmakers at 32Red UK are backing Leeds at 12/1 to get back into the top flight. However, they will need to improve in both boxes to discover a clinical edge and shut the opposition out at the back to make their dreams become a reality in May.
Leeds’ fall from grace was staggering to see in the early 2000s as they were competing in the semi-finals of the Champions League just three years before their slide into the second tier. Poor decisions at board level and overspending led to their decline, forcing them into fire sales and tightening of the purse strings to keep the club afloat, culminating in not only their drop into the Championship but also their relegation to League One in 2007.
Supporters of the club will have been devastated to see the famous white shirt appearing in the third tier so soon after advancing to the latter stages of European football’s elite competition. However, after years of mediocrity the club are trending towards the playoff places once again, although it has taken far too long for a team of their prestige to make noise in the second tier.
Leeds are not the only side to have been relegated from the Premier League and had periods of immense strife in the lower division. Southampton had struggles and were also relegated in League One before their eventual promotion back to the top flight, setting the blueprint for clubs that have shared a similar fate.
There are similarities between the two sides as both have strong youth academies and perhaps the only difference in success and Leeds’ failure is that Southampton surrounded their youth with enough talent to earn their spot back in the Premier League. Whereas the White have either had to sell their talent at an early stage as in the case of Lewis Cook, or failed to get the best out of Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor.
The Championship is littered with clubs that are striving to return to former greatness. Sheffield Wednesday were a founder member of the Premier League and competed well with the top sides in the division, recording three seventh-place finishes. However, since their relegation in 2000 the Owls have only threatened to reclaim their place in the big time just once, which came last season in their playoff final defeat to Hull City.
Wednesday dropped down twice to League One during their 16-year exile from the top division to date, but under Carlos Carvalhal appear to be on the brink of another challenge this term, being backed among the leading contenders for promotion with 32Red and BetGun.
The team is filled with veterans and are not reliant on their youth, which could benefit them late in the campaign due to their experience, although the long-term ramifications could be interesting to say the least at Hillsborough.
Wolves are another side that enjoyed a decent spell of three seasons in the Premier League, but are one of the few sides that endured back-to-back relegations. The Midlands outfit were able to haul themselves out of League One at the first attempt and were only denied a place in the Championship playoffs in their first season back in the second tier due to their inferior goal difference to Ipswich Town and Brentford.
The club were taken over in the summer by the Fosun Group, promising significant investment in new players, while new manager Walter Zenga was hired to replace Kenny Jackett after an underwhelming 14th-place finish. However, the Italian only lasted 14 matches before he was replaced by Paul Lambert, although Wolves are still languishing in the bottom half of the Championship, with the possibility of a promotion challenge unlikely this season to say the least.
Wolves are a team without an identity at the moment and it may take a year under the tenure of Lambert before they can make strides forward to regain their place in the Premier League. Whether the new owners have the patience for that approach is another matter, and could be the decisive factor in how long the club’s exile from the top division lasts.