White smoke from ER! Big day for @LUFC fans. Thank you for the patience and support, our Manager will be announced very soon— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) June 15, 2017
After what seemed like way too long, Leeds United are set to appoint a new manager. According to various media outlets, the Whites are set to appoint former Barcelona striker Thomas Christiansen as the successor to Garry Monk. Christiansen was someone whose named was never really brought up during our arduous search for a manager, so surprise definitely comes with the appointment.
Christiansen’s footballing story is an interesting one. Born in Denmark to a Spanish mother, Thomas started playing at age nine. He slowly rose through the ranks of Danish football and started training with Real Madrid’s youth team. However, his mom prohibited him from joining the club, so he joined Danish club B.93. He then joined Barcelona, signing a four-year deal in 1991. In that deal, Christiansen had agreed to a clause which made him a Spanish citizen upon signing his contract and sufficiently started playing with Spain’s U21 side. He would bounce back and forth from Barcelona’s regular and B team, before being sent out on loan in three consecutive seasons. Spanish league regulations stated that following three years of loan contracts, Barcelona had to compensate Christiansen financially if a transfer deal could not be worked out. Oddly enough, Christiansen was first sold to Manchester City -who at the time were still in the premier league, but nowhere near as rich as they are today- but Christiansen wanted to stay in Spain, so he was sold to Real Oviedo. After bouncing around from clubs in Spain, Greece, and Denmark, Christiansen joined Bundesliga side VfL Bochum. It’s here in the Bundesliga where Christiansen was able to make a name for himself, as he scored 38 goals in 76 appearances for Die Unabsteigbaren, and 12 times for Hannover 96 before having to retire due to injury.
Christiansen started coaching in the United Arab Emirates, as an assistant coach for Al Jazira Club. Only eight months in, Christiansen left his post after head coach Luis Miller was fired. Six months later, Christiansen joined Cypriot AEK Larnaca FC. After two successful seasons, Christiansen made the jump to reigning Cypriot League Champions APOEL Nicosia. In his one season with Τhrylos, Christiansen guided APOEL to the Cypriot First Divisions title (apologies for me not knowing if that’s impressive). More importantly, Christiansen guided APOEL Nicosia to the round of 16 in the Europa league, the furthest the club has ever gone in the competition. However, his side lost the Cypriot Cup final to Apollon Limassol, and APOEL decided they would not renew Christiansen’s expiring contract. Shame, I bet he loved managing the best club on a small island in the Mediterranean.
He may not have been the household name Leeds fans wanted to bring on board, but I’m pretty okay with the appointment. Yea, he is definitely an outsider; I don’t know exactly how impressive “Winner of the Cypriot First Division” looks on your resume. But, and I hate bringing them up, look at Huddersfield Town. Show me ten Huddersfield fans who know anything about David Wagner prior to his appointment with the club and I’ll show you ten liars (for those wondering, Wagner managed Borussia Dortmund II before joining Town). My point is, Wagner was an outsider and now that outsider is the manager of a team in the Premier League who still has a knights crest as their logo. If he can make the adjustment, I don’t see why Christiansen can’t do the same either. He has a great foundation built for him, both on and off the field. I’m very excited to see what Christiansen can do at the helm of Leeds United.
Welcome aboard, Thomas.