Leeds United show no fight as Premier League relegation is sealed with a catalogue of errors in Tottenham thrashing

LEEDS, England — “Leeds are falling apart again” sang the Tottenham fans in their corner of Elland Road. The Leeds United supporters at the other end of the stadium thought briefly about coming up with their own put down but instead joined in. Their team were falling apart and they couldn’t deny it.

In a game Leeds needed to win to stand any chance of staying up, they lost 4-1 with barely a flicker of fight.

The next time Leeds are here, they will be playing in the Championship, swapping fixtures with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for games against Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United, and they only have themselves to blame.

After circling the drain a year ago and only surviving with a win over Brentford on the final day, this season has been one littered with mistakes on and off the pitch.

How was Jesse Marsch allowed to continue as manager until February? How was a club record fee squandered on Georginio Rutter in the January transfer window only for the striker to barely play? How do you manage to concede nearly 80 goals in a Premier League season? And how do you move from Marcelo Bielsa to Sam Allardyce — via Marsch and Javi Gracia — in little over a year?

Most of those questions are to be answered by owner Andrea Radrizzani, who has taken the club back to the division he found them in six years ago.

Supporters want him gone, and 49ers Enterprises, which owns 44% of the club, wants a full takeover, but the issue of who will be in charge of the boardroom next season is still up in the air. Allardyce said afterward that “it’s the first thing that needs to be sorted” this summer. Only then, he said, can a decision be made on who the manager will be and what the squad might look like. Allardyce hasn’t ruled out staying, although a record of four games, three defeats and 11 goals conceded hasn’t done him any favours.

In his postmatch news conference, he apologised to the fans but also pointed the finger of blame at his players, insisting that the biggest difference between Leeds and Tottenham was “unforced errors.” It was 90 minutes of self-inflicted damage. Even before the game, Allardyce wrote in his programme notes that Leeds have been “punished for the errors we have made” and it was no different against Spurs.

Inside the first 30 seconds, Weston McKennie fluffed a simple pass, giving the ball to Son Heung-Min. Leeds didn’t see it again until they were 1-0 down, and after watching Pedro Porro nip in front of Pascal Struijk to set up the chance for Harry Kane, all Allardyce could do was stand on the touchline and shake his head.

While VAR checked the goal, the home fans began chanting in support of Bielsa, the popular former manager who was sacked in 2022, and Jack Harrison and Rodrigo had an argument.

And as if conceding inside the first two minutes of the first half wasn’t bad enough, Leeds did it again in the second. Kane wanted the ball more than Liam Cooper, Struijk had the chance to clear the pass but miskicked and Porro finished it off, ending any flickering hope of a dramatic Leeds escape.

The frustration in the stands had long since crossed into anger. Chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” were aimed at the players while Italian broadcasting boss Radrizzani was told to “sell the club and f— off home.”

News of an Everton goal at Goodison Park then filtered through, and the first Leeds fans started to slip out of the stadium, more than half an hour before full-time. They missed Harrison pulling a goal back for Leeds, who then, in-keeping with a calamitous performance, gifted another goal to Kane.

Allardyce reflected ruefully afterwards that “you would have thought they might have learned from the first two, but no.”

When a pitch invader sprinted out and evaded a couple of burly security staff before being wrestled to the floor, he was serenaded by the home fans who sang “sign him up” and “he’s shown more fight than you.” It was hard to argue when Leeds had done so little to help themselves.

The fourth goal from Lucas Moura was a lovely moment for the Brazilian on his final Spurs appearance, but it only happened because of even more woeful Leeds defending. Leeds have conceded 157 top-flight goals since the start of last season, more than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues. It’s a stat that reeks of relegation.

It’s tempting on days like this to suggest that a club of Leeds’ size will be back in the Premier League soon, but their fans know better than most that it’s not that simple. The last time they were relegated from the top flight in 2004, it took them 16 years to return, and their spell away also included three seasons in the third division of English football.

Leeds have fallen apart, but the question now is how quickly can they be put back together?