It’s fair to say that Thomas Christiansen wasn’t the managerial appointment most Leeds United fans were hoping for this summer. So it’s fair to say he has some work to do in winning the Elland Road faithful over.
But while the former APOEL Nicosia manager might be little-known on these shores, his record on the continent, as well as the Spaniard’s illustrious playing career, suggests he could be the ideal appointment for the West Yorkshire club.
His feats in Cyprus speak for themselves
The 44-year-old may be a new face in the EFL, but when it comes to management, he’s already proven he can secure success. That was proved last season as his APOEL side clinched the Cypriot Premier Division title – racking up an unbeaten home record along the way.
Add to that the fact Christiansen guided the capital club to the last 16 of the Europa League – knocking out Spanish heavyweights Athletic Bilbao along the way – and it’s fair to say he leaves the club with his stock high.
However, even more impressively – and crucially, for the Leeds role – the former Barcelona player delivered AEK Larnaca’s highest ever league finishes in his only two seasons with the club (2014-16), as they finished runners-up in both years.
With Leeds struggling to make the step up after six solid but ultimately fruitless seasons in the second-tier, they may now have just the man to help lead the club back to the Premier League. After all, he navigated the ‘business end’ of the season superbly at APOEL.
His contacts could prove crucial in the transfer market
The former striker came through the ranks at Barcelona, making his first-team debut in 1992, and went on to play for a series of sizeable Spanish clubs (including Villarreal), as well as playing in the top-flight in Germany, Greece and Denmark.
Having also built up strong links in the Cypriot game, managing a side with sizeable European experience, his contacts and reputation on the continent are strong – something which will only serve to help the Whites in the transfer market.
Not that players on these shores won’t buy into his vision. In fact, Leeds are currently firm favourites at 7/4 to sign Arsenal prodigy Chuba Akpom.
Entertainment levels sure to rise
While the Whites were improved under the popular Garry Monk last season, it’s fair to say the excitement levels weren’t always through the roof. In fact, the Elland Road outfit netted 24 goals fewer than the sides directly above and below them – Fulham and Norwich City.
That’s quite a contrast with Christiansen’s sides, with his APOEL team outscoring all on their way to last season’s title triumph, with a hefty 77 goals in 36 league games – as well as winning a few truly cracking European ties.
With all that in mind, we reckon Leeds fans are in for a very pleasant surprise this season.
And for savvy punters – Whites fans or otherwise – now looks like the time to back the club for glory next term, before our odds-crunchers catch on.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing