by Sizwe Mbebe
Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe expects that his former employers will secure promotion to the Premier League this season after their Championship playoff near-miss last term.
United, who haven’t been in the top flight since relegation in 2004, were defeated in the playoff semi-finals by Derby County after finishing third in the regular season, having competed for automatic promotion for much of the campaign.
Having retained coach Marcelo Bielsa, however, they’ve started the new season strongly, taking 13 points from their opening five matches to sit atop the pile ahead of this weekend’s meeting with second-placed Swansea City.
Radebe is confident that they can make up for last year’s failure to return to the big time this term.
“We have a quality manager, and the players give their best for Biesla,” Radebe told Goal at the Cadbury’s Trophy Experience this week, where fans were afforded the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Premier League trophy.
“They set it up nicely since they didn’t come up last season,” he added. "They got so close and gave us a taste of what could be, but this season, we expect that we win the thing.
“No playoffs,” he added. “We have to come first and go straight up.”
Radebe joined Leeds from Kaizer Chiefs in 1994, and went on to feature 201 times for the Yorkshire giants in the league.
He was part of the side that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001, and remained loyal to the club following their relegation three years later.
“The Premier League misses Leeds United,” the 50-year-old concluded. “When Leeds get promoted, Elland Road will get back to those winning ways, and vibe, and become a fortress again.”