Leeds Looking to Avoid ‘Second Season Syndrome’

Taking a look back at Premier League history, there are a number of examples of the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’.

Having secured a ninth-place finish in their first season back in the top flight for 16 years, Leeds United are working hard to make sure their name is not added to the list.

Whites Impress on Premier League Return

After so many years away from the top table of English football, there was plenty of attention on how Marcelo Bielsa’s side would fare on their return to the Premier League. Leeds, who are 9/1 in the football betting to be relegated this season, did not disappoint as their attacking brand of football saw them secure a top-half finish. None of the ‘Big Six’ teams in the division earned league wins at Elland Road in the 2020-21 campaign, while Leeds’ highlight of the season was a 2-1 victory with 10-men at Manchester City.

Not one to get too carried away with successes, Bielsa is now tasked with trying to guide Leeds through a second season in the top flight. As history has shown, this can be much tougher than many expect.

Blades Offer Fresh Example

Fellow Yorkshire outfit Sheffield United offer up the most recent example of second season syndrome, as the Blades now look ahead to a campaign in the Championship. Like Leeds last term, manager Chris Wilder took his side to ninth place in the 2019-20 Premier League season. Success was built on a solid defence and impressive organisation and the Blades earned plenty of plaudits for their efforts, as they just missed out on securing European football.

Wilder was hoping to build on the foundations of that campaign, but his side went on to win just one of their first 19 games of the 2020-21 season. Wilder could not hold on to his position at Bramall Lane and now the South Yorkshire outfit have the task of trying to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Tractor Boys Top the List

Ipswich Town offer arguably the most notorious example of second season syndrome the Premier League has witnessed since its inception in 1992. After promotion via the playoff final, the Tractor Boys found themselves back in the Premier League for the 2000-01 season. Up as high as third at one stage, manager George Burley saw his side earn UEFA Cup football after a fifth-place finish.

Second season syndrome then hit Ipswich, as they went on to win just one of their first 18 league games of the 2001-02 campaign. There was a revival midway through the season, but another dip in form saw them dragged back into the relegation zone, and a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool on the final day saw them condemned to the second tier.

The likes of Birmingham City, Reading and Wigan Athletic also have their own tales of woe in the Premier League. Leeds are working hard in preseason to make sure they don’t add their name to second season syndrome victims. With fresh faces arriving over the summer, and Bielsa at the helm, Whites supporters will be hopeful Leeds can avoid the trappings of the past.

Michael Jordan ‘The Shot’ 1989

Michael Jordan 'The Shot' 1989 ‘The Shot’ was an iconic moment in the career of former National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Michael Jordan and, arguably, the most noteworthy play in the history of basketball. ‘The Shot’ occured in the closing seconds of the fifth, decisive game of a best-of-five NBA playoff series between Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum, Ohio on May 7, 1989.

In a tense, tightly fought contest, the lead changed hands half a dozen times in the last few minutes. With just three seconds remaining, Cavaliers’ shooting guard Craig Ehlo scored a basket to put his team 100-99 ahead but, remarkably, that was not the final score. Bulls’ coach Paul Douglas ‘Doug’ Collins said later that the tactic behind the final play, which led to ‘The Shot’, was simply, ‘get the ball to Michael and everybody get the [expletive] out of the way!’

Jordan received the ball on the right side of the court, dribbled towards the free throw lane, a.k.a. the ‘key’, and rose for a jumpshot from inside the free throw circle. Ehlo, one of the Cavaliers’ leading defenders, leapt to block the shot, but Jordan appeared to hang in the air, almost levitating, to create space above Ehlo, before releasing the shot. The ball dropped into the net right on the buzzer, giving the Bulls a 101-100 victory, with Jordan pumping his fists in celebration. The Chicago Bulls subsequently progressed to the Eastern Conference finals, where they were ultimately eliminated by the Detroit Pistons.

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The Shot (VIDEO)

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The History of The Euros

The History of The Euros A visionary Frenchman called Henri Delaunay first floated the idea of a pan-European football tournament back in 1927.

Delaunay spent his playing career at Étoile des Deux Lacs in Paris and then became a referee, but he had to retire after suffering a freak injury. The ball struck him in the face during a game between AF Garenne-Doves and ES Benevolence, breaking two of his teeth and causing him to swallow.

However, he made a full recovery and embarked upon a career as an administrator. Delaunay rose to the top of the French Football Federation, and ultimately became the general secretary of UEFA. He worked with Jules Rimet to create the World Cup, while he was always a passionate champion of creating a UEFA European Championship.

Delaunay’s Dream Becomes a Reality

Relations were tense between many European nations between the wars, and he was unable to bring enough countries together to host the tournament. His plan only started to gain traction in the 1950s, when a semblance of peace existed on the continent.

After much wrangling, a date was finally set for the inaugural European Championship, which was set for 1960. Delaunay sadly died before he could see the tournament come to fruition, but his son, Pierre, replaced him as the head of UEFA and ensured the Euros went ahead.

The trophy awarded to the champion is named after Delaunay in order to honour his legacy.

The first iteration of the tournament was a slightly underwhelming affair, as England, Italy and West Germany declined to take part. Spain also refused to travel to the Soviet Union for the quarter-finals due to political reasons, meaning the Soviets received a bye into the semis.

They made short work of Czechoslovakia, teeing up a final showdown with Yugoslavia, who beat France 5-4 in the other semi-final. It was a tense, cagey affair, but legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin ultimately led the Soviets to a 2-1 victory after extra-time.

Tournament Takes Shape

Spain hosted the second European Championship in 1964. There were still teething problems – West Germany did not enter, and Greece withdrew after being drawn against Albania, a country it was at war with – but it was a more competitive affair. This time Franco did allow Spain to play against the Soviets, and he was at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid to witness them beat Yashin and co 2-1 in the final, courtesy of a late winner from Marcelino.

The number of competitors increased to 31 when Italy hosted the Euros in 1968, and the Italians ultimately triumphed. They drew 1-1 in a final against Yugoslavia, but won the replay 2-0. Belgium hosted the 1972 tournament, which saw West Germany beat the Soviet Union 3-0 in the final, with the iconic Gerd Müller scoring a brace.

West Germany went on to win the World Cup two years later, but they lost to Czechoslovakia in the final of the 1976 European Championship. This was the first tournament to be decided by a penalty shootout. Uli Hoeneß missed his kick for the Germans, giving Antonin Panenka the opportunity to settle it. The Czech midfielder slotted in an audacious chip to win the shootout, and players are still pulling off Panenkas to this day.

Platini and van Basten Dominate the 1980s

The Euros grew increasingly organised and professional in the 1980s. The knockout stage was expanded to eight teams in 1980. West Germany prevailed again that year, while Michel Platini led France to glory four years later, firing in nine goals in just five games.

Marco van Basten lit up the 1988 final when he slammed in a volley from an outrageous angle en route to a Dutch victory over the Soviet Union.

In 1992, Yugoslavia were banned from entering Euros as the country descended into civil war. Denmark took their place, and ended up winning the tournament, beating a unified Germany in the final.

The Modern Era

England hosted Euro 1996, which saw the knockout stage expanded to 16 teams for the first time. David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds whipped the country into a passionate frenzy, but England crashed out in the semi-finals after losing a shootout against Germany, who ended up lifting the trophy.

Euro 2000 was the first tournament to have joint hosts – Belgium and the Netherlands – but it was reigning world champions France that emerged victorious. The greatest upset came four years later, when an unheralded Greek team beat hosts Portugal in the final.

Spain won the Euros in 2008 and 2012 during a dominant period led by Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and then Portugal became champions of Europe for the first time in 2016.

UEFA decided to host Euro 2020 at a number of different cities across the continent to mark the tournament’s 60th anniversary. It was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will take place this summer. England and France are the joint favourites in the Euro 2020 betting at Unikrn, while Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy are all looking very strong.

Fans will be back inside certain stadiums to watch the action unfold, and it promises to be a captivating tournament, which Delaunay would no doubt have enjoyed.