Leeds Need To Learn Lessons From Revie’s Golden Years At Elland Road


Love them or hate them, Leeds United are a club entrenched in the folklore of English football. The Whites did not have a distinguished start to life in the football league, and it took 40 years for them to make an impact with the biggest clubs in the game. Don Revie’s takeover as the manager of the team sparked an incredible run of success that saw Leeds dominate English football for a decade.

They won the Division One crown twice, finishing second five times, along with an FA Cup and League Cup triumph. The only feat that eluded Revie before his departure to take up the England manager’s job was the European Cup, with the club reaching only the semi-finals under his tenure.

The Revie era was the most successful period in Leeds’ history, and one which is remembered by football fans as bittersweet, as the club were known as ‘Dirty Leeds’ through the decade due to their physical nature on the pitch, which at times marred their triumphs.

Leeds can only dream of such glory on the field at the moment due to their struggles to break out of the second tier of English football. Since their relegation in 2004, the club have only come close on one occasion to breaking back into the Premier League, which came in their playoff final defeat to Watford two years later.

The club have endured two relegations to League One in their exile, and ownership changes which has seen the controversial Massimo Cellino take charge at Elland Road. The Italian has been involved in several off-the-field incidents, and despite the numerous managerial changes he has made Leeds have remained a lower mid-table side in the Championship.

Garry Monk is the latest name in the hot seat, the seventh manager since Cellino’s takeover at the club in 2014. After early struggles the Whites have appeared to make progress under the former Swansea manager and 32Red have backed the club at 20/1 to return to the Premier League this season.

The club face a similar challenge as to when Revie took charge of first-team matters from Jack Taylor. He was meticulous in his preparation and even suggested that the club change the colour of their strip to all-white to match the style of Real Madrid, while he also altered the badge to the LUFC logo on the breast of the shirt.

Revie was ahead of his time in the 60s and 70s, making dossiers on opposing teams ahead of his side’s matches, while also emphasising a strong family atmosphere at the club, ensuring that his players were in the peak of fitness and satisfied with all aspects of their life at Elland Road.

He brought players through the youth team to become the spine of his starting line-up throughout his tenure. Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Jack Charlton and Eddie Gray would become the stars of the side after rising through the ranks, earning fame across the globe for their exceptional skill and physical style of the play.

The culture Revie brought to the club was unique and the driving force behind their sustained success throughout the decade. This was the era when players remained at teams for the duration of their careers and majority of the stars of the Revie years remained with the Whites beyond his departure and even through the ill-fated reign of Brian Clough before retiring.

Leeds have failed to reached the heights of Revie’s era in the 42 years since his departure, although David O’Leary did guide the club to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001 and a third-place finish in the Premier League in 2000.

Monk is now charged with at the minimum of steering Leeds back into the top flight, and bookmakers 32Red and Unibet suggest that the Whites can become contenders due to their solid form of late under the former Swansea manager. There is young talent on their books in the form Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor, while Lewis Cook was snapped up by Bournemouth over the summer.

The fact that their academy is producing quality players is a good sign for the club’s long-term future. That was the starting point for their success under Revie and Monk could learn a great deal from the example of one of his predecessors to guide the Whites back into the Premier League.

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