“I started to feel sorry for Leeds for a minute… and then I remembered it was Leeds,” was a tweet that best encapsulated Take Us Home. Amazon Prime, they’ve done it again. Just like Man City’s All Or Nothing series a year or so ago, Amazon prime have once again produced an absolute peach of a documentary, a documentary this time so engaging it turned fans from all across the country into Leeds supporters for at least 45 minutes. Even though- as a Forest fan and follower of the Championship- the outcome was a formality before the first episode, you couldn’t help but find yourself attached to the story on a visceral level.
1.Victor Orta, what a man
It was entirely unforeseen that the most likeable person in Take Us Home would not be a player, coach, or kitman as it was in the Manchester City documentary. No, in fact, it was the man in the suit, the sporting director Victor Orta. If every sporting director was this much fun, the world be a much better place, that’s for sure. Displaying a refreshing zeal for his job, Orta captured the hearts of viewers with his outpourings of emotion. The Spaniard was in tears after the Daniel James deal fell through, but the abiding image was Orta, there in the executive box, double fist-pumping the air in sheer hysteria at a late Leeds equaliser.
2.Daniel James was nearly Leeds
When Daniel James came of the bench to bag Man Utd’s 4th goal on his Old Trafford debut 12 days ago, all his suffering over the last 6 months at Swansea was well and truly put to bed. But he could, and should have headed an entirely different path. Take Us Home went behind the scenes to reveal a transfer saga that was actually astonishing. James, at the time a Swansea player, was a hair’s breadth away from becoming a Leeds player in January. Having passed his medical, chosen his squad number, and completed the photoshoots, it seemed only to be a matter of time until the Swansea board gave their nod of consent. But it never came. So, packing his bags up, James began the long, painful drive through the night back to South Wales. The signing would have given Leeds’ promotion credentials an almighty boost. “Daniel James, he wants to be Leeds,” sang the Leeds’ fans on his return to Elland Road with Swansea. But a star performance against Manchester City in the FA cup and the Premier League clubs began to sniff around. And, low and behold, 3 months or so later, James was holding a certain red shirt high and proud on the fields of Old Trafford.
3. The paradox of Elland Road
Leeds United are an absolute giant of a club. Being the only club in the city, and with their success in the late 60’s under Don Revie, league title in 1992 and European exploits in the early 2000’s, the club attract a huge following from all across the world. Amazon Prime were determined to portray this. The series included the incredible story of a man travelling all the way from Malaysia bringing his wife to a match against Sheffield United for their honeymoon, interviews with the avid Scandinavian following known as ‘The Scandinavian Whites”, and a legendary quote from one Leeds fan saying “Leeds come before everything, before family, kids, everything.” Elland Road is never short of noise and support on matchday. But the passion of the faithful can often prove a double-edged sword. Interviews with Luke Ayling and Adam Forshaw revealed the abuse received on social media after a sub-par performance or bad result. “People forget your a person sometimes,” claimed an emotional Forshaw. Ayling elaborated on the unfairness of Twitter hate, “People say ‘oh he’s crap, get him out’, and then you think hold on a minute, at the start of the season I was the best thing since sliced bread!”
4. Where was the dressing room footage ?
To be quite honest, it was a real disappointment to have no dressing room footage. The prospect of seeing the enigmatic Bielsa’s team talks lured many of us in, but there was nothing of the sort. The highlights of the Man City documentary took place in the dressing room: Guardiola fuming at his players, “Sit down ! Nobody Talk!”, and Fabian Delph’s row with Yaya Toure at half time in the FA cup against Wigan. But, in retrospect, it is understandable why we weren’t granted that in Take Us Home. Bielsa, the paranoid perfectionist, would not risk giving his tactics away for some futile documentary. A sole blemish in what was, on the whole, a fantastic series.
5. Bielsa: should he tweak his methodology ?
Marcelo Bielsa has two fundamentals: a small squad to work with, and a high-energy style of football. But are his ideas routed in reality ? Can you have both of them ? Take Us Home shed light on the ravaging injuries for Leeds United last season, primarily due to the physical demands set on the players by their manager. The board haven’t exactly bolstered the squad this summer, so will injuries take their toll on another Leeds United campaign ?