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Leeds United owner Radrizzani calls Thomas Christiansen hiring a “mistake”

Owner apologised to fans over the decision to hire the former APOEL Nicosia manager

Sunderland v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrea Radrizzani, the owner of Leeds United, gave an interview today in which he apologised to the fans for the hiring of former Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post Radrizzani said that he was sorry to the fans for making a mistake in the hiring of Christiansen. He explained the reasons behind the hiring of the former APOEL Nicosia manager, saying that he was excited by a fresh name and a fresh approach to the game. However, the results haven’t been good, and he felt he had given Christiansen many chances to improve, saying:

Anything that doesn’t work is a mistake so yes, I did make a mistake. I apologise to the fans and the club, and for my experience I need to learn and analyse better my choice before making it.

At the same time, he seemed to be someone successful and fresh who could match with the new phase of the club, my new management and the new freshness around the team. But if you watch the games we conceded so many chances early on, in the first few minutes. This is a sign that mentally the players are not relaxed. They are stressed and this is why I could feel that probably the manager was not transmitting security and confidence.

I waited for a long time before taking the decision and gave him many chances. Already at the beginning of January I was really keen to change. Victor (Orta, Leeds’ director of football) convinced me to hold on and give him one more, one more, one more; extra chances but at the end, something was missing

In addition to the poor form in January and the early, soul crushing goals that seemed to derail whatever tactical plan that the team had going into the match, Radrizzani specially highlighted the defeat at Newport County as an unacceptable result, saying:

I had two situations that put me in the mind to change. First, the crazy Christmas period where we had four games in eight days. I was expecting (Christiansen) to manage the group in terms of changing some players. At the end, what happened was the opposite.

As a result we had to change 10 players and have a shame-game against Newport. Congratulations to them but we didn’t come onto the pitch to play. That was a message to consider a change.

The FA Cup loss did seem to start a downward spiral for the club, as not only did the club lose to a League Two opponent that the club had previously defeated 5-1 in the League Cup back in August, but Samu Saiz, clearly the best player at the club, was put in with a few minutes to go to salvage the match. Instead of securing a victory, the club gave up a late goal and instead of sparking the club, Saiz spit at an opponent and was banned for six matches. The loss at Newport not only doomed Leeds to yet another early exit in the FA Cup, but the hangover from the result has also lingered, as the club has only grabbed one point, a draw at relegation threatened Hull City, since the result in South Wales.

Radrizzani seemed optimistic about the potential with Paul Heckingbottom now in charge, saying that the Yorkshire native has already lead Barnsley FC to one promotion and that it would be good to get someone with Championship experience to take the helm at Leeds. Time, and the results on the pitch, will tell if the decision to hire Heckingbottom was a good idea or not.

In truth, I don’t think that Radrizzani necessarily had to apologise for the hiring of Christiansen. Sometimes things don’t work out. Attempting to bring some new blood into the club, to get a new perspective on how to win matches isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, for as much as Christiansen preached flexibility and tactical reactions, Leeds were sadly predictable and crumbled like a house of cards far too often.

Now the real question becomes if it was the coaching of Christiansen that produced the team that has looked awful for the past month or so, or if it’s the players. If the results don’t improve and the players continue to play poorly, will we see another interview with Radrizzani apologising for hiring Orta?