Farke's future, Leeds United transfer commitment and Marathe on Elland Road redevelopment

-Credit: (Image: MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Chemistry will be critical to Leeds United’s transfer targets this summer in a side Paraag Marathe hopes will be greater than the sum of its parts under Daniel Farke. In his first sit-down with the media since taking control at Elland Road, the chairman also admitted the stadium’s development remains on track, but questions would be more complicated to answer in another 12 months.

Marathe’s commitment to Farke remains impeccable, even in light of Sunday’s disappointment. The American was devastated by that Wembley experience, but is buoyed by the prospect of a five-week headstart on the summer they had at the helm in 2023.

“Daniel has been fantastic,” he said. “I'm excited about working with him again this season. We set out to do this, we had a long-term plan, a long-term commitment, not just me to him, but him to me. We have a lot of work to do and we have to see our plan through.

READ MORE: 'I can promise you' - Paraag Marathe breaks his silence on Leeds United's promotion failure

“He has been tremendous with a steady hand, the right temperament. If you think about the circumstances [when] he first came in, I can't remember exactly how many days we had between his official hiring and the first day of training, but it wasn't many.

“You saw how the start of our season was, with just so many ins and outs and difficult, challenging players situations. He did a tremendous job and so I'm excited about getting back at it with him as my partner and with our leadership team.

“I really feel confident about the season particularly because we have at least a four or five-week headstart on what we had last year.”

As manager, with the help of Angus Kinnear, Gretar Steinsson and Nick Hammond, Farke will, inevitably, have to oversee player sales this summer. Marathe did not shy away from the realities of profit and sustainability (P&S) rules the club must adhere to, but remained keen to stress fans can expect buying power at Elland Road too.

“Let me lead with this: we are well-capitalised from an investment standpoint,” he said. “We have the funds we need to do what we need to do. The reality of being in the Championship is P&S plays a role.

“We also inherited a challenging situation, which you guys have all seen, so there will naturally need to be some trade-offs, but it's not just outs, it’s ins as well. We have a really good team looking at scouting possibilities for impressive players we can bring in.

“We will have to make some trade-offs because of P&S, but we have the investment committed, that commitment, we need, to do what we need to do.”

Understandably, less than two days after the end of their elongated season, Marathe could not get into too many specifics on what the summer window may bring at Elland Road. The 49ers Enterprises chief was keen to stress the lengths their senior management team will go in finding the right players for Farke.

“It's a little early for me to say,” he said. “I can't speak to specific positions or things like that. What I will say is we have a great team, a football leadership team, on board from the jump.

“After we brought in Daniel, then we went through the process of bringing in our technical director in Gretar Steinsson, then we went through the process of bringing Nick Hammond on board. That, combined with Angus, who's spending a little bit more time on football matters.

“Our team was formed as we were going about and executing things. Now, I'm really excited about the group we have, from Gretar and Nick and Daniel and Robbie Evans, our chief strategy officer, and Angus and Adam Underwood.

“Together, this will be a team effort this year. This will be a team effort where no stone will be unturned as we're looking through what are the best players and what are the best mentalities to fit our squad.

“In some cases, the sum of the parts might be greater than individual pieces, meaning the right player group to bring us the right chemistry, to play together, to play for each other, to recognise what it means to wear that Leeds United badge and wear it with pride. We're going to find the right group of men that will go out and do that for us.”

Money has already has been set aside for the wider development of Elland Road, though little meaningful progress has been noticed by supporters. Marathe maintains, at this current time, the same level of progress would have been made, whichever league the club were in or are going to be in from August.

Work has continued in the background to get Leeds closer to a position where they can push the button on shovels in the ground when the time comes. In the meantime, updates to toilets, lounges and concourses have been made, he says.

“We have already earmarked a certain amount of investment to make some improvements at Elland Road, things I know supporters have been asking for,” he said. “While it might not be the whole new shiny toy, we are doing different things, like improving the bathrooms and improving different concourses and lounges.

“We've already earmarked the investment we're going to do for that. In the bigger, greater development, we're still very much on the timeline and on the path to doing that.

“It's been reported nothing is going to happen until we get to the Premier League. That's a little bit misleading, at least for this season. A lot of the make-ready work we have to do, before a shovel is in the ground, it really didn't matter, this season, if we were in the Championship or the Premier League.

“There's still work to be done we're doing anyway and I don't want to say work, I mean a significant investment, to line up the right things you need to do to work with the city council, to get all the approvals, to do all of the drawings. All of those things, before you put a shovel in the ground, whether we were in the Premier League or the Championship, we will be doing anyway.

“That money is earmarked, committed, and we are continuing down that path. Now, if you ask me this question a year from now, it might be a little bit more complicated because, at that point, I'd be ready with the shovel, but everything right now is green-lit as it would have been in either case.”

Marathe’s transparency on matters precious to supporters, like the stadium development, is important to him. He wants to be seen as a chairman who says what he means and means what he says.

The American hopes that will be the reputation he develops over time as the 49ers group moves into its second year at the helm. Marathe was asked what he hoped would be the hallmarks of a second season in charge.

“Let me be a little introspective with that,” he said. “A couple of things come to mind for me. The first is, I hope I have developed a reputation, or, if not, I hope I continue to develop the reputation, of I mean what I say and I say what I mean.

“I'm not one for platitudes or trying to under-promise, over-deliver or the other way around. I like to be practical and call it how I see it.

“The second thing is I pride myself on trying to be very methodical and strategic about how we go about executing our plan. So that means not trying to get too high when things are good and not trying to get too low when things are down.

“We have a plan and how to execute our plan and I want to make sure we continue down that path. Like I said about Daniel, we have a long-term commitment with each other and we are continuing down that path.

“Will there be speed bumps like we just had? Certainly, but I feel confident about what it's supposed to look like, the squad, the club, our performance, the stadium and how we fit within the community.

“I'm committed to chasing that goal and I don't like to fly by whichever way the wind blows. I like to keep my head down and be very methodical and thoughtful about our approach.”