The creators and editors of this documentary did an admirable job of creating a real feeling of an underdog story. One where, against all the odds, the weaker side battled and worked hard to come out on top. The story in reality was; the overwhelming promotion favourites did as they should do, and got promoted.
After watching Take Us Home: Leeds United, you’d be forgiven for being convinced that Marcelo Bielsa was the only manager in world football who cared about the fitness of his players in pre season, the conditions of the training ground, or having post-game analysis on what the players did right and wrong. Every Leeds victory is down to this perceived god of the game, whilst their losses (or those that were covered) were down to poor form, bad luck, or other unfortunate circumstances. Interviews held by higher-ups at the club were presented with a cheery, sunny outlook on decisions made by the club – such as selling fan-favourite Pontus Jansson to promotion rivals Brentford – and allowed them to present decisions they made in the narrative they wanted them to be perceived.
After all, doesn’t everybody know that Leeds United are the only club who experience injury issues over the course of a 46-game Championship season, and aren’t they also the only club who were affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Seriously, Take Us Home states: “Nobody felt the affects of it [the pandemic] more than Leeds United.” Quotes such as this and “the most Leeds thing that could happen” line this documentary, to give the viewers the impression that the club and fans have always traditionally held – it’s Leeds United against the world. Even the commentary used for the games throughout Take Us Home was provided by the club, so no damning home-truths were given by pundits or commentators – there was simply elation over goals and wins.
This documentary did, however, touch brilliantly on the affect of the coronavirus lockdown on the players’ mental health. Touching interviews with the players, aptly carried out over Zoom at the time, rather than conducting them in post-production, came across excellently and were an important addition and insight that may otherwise have been completely overlooked. It was a brave and admirable touch to include the players who were able to freely express their personal feelings and worries, ones which would certainly resonate with their fans across the world.
The behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall access which was prevalent in the first series, and in other series’ such as All Or Nothing Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, was unfortunately lacking in this second season. Amazon can be given the benefit of the doubt in this case, due to heavy restrictions on access due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the attempt to make up for it by showing game action alongside interviews from the likes of Leeds’ Director of Football, Victor Orta at the head of the club felt extremely PR-based and removed a layer of authenticity and reality from a concept which has been so successful in the past.
The use of fan interviews, and live reactions during games, does give a better idea of how the people around the club were really feeling. The fans express their raw and true reactions to the trials and tribulations on and off the pitch, even while the interviews with those at the club give clear media-trained responses. These fans, who were heavily involved, give Take Us Home much more of a relatable feel, even to those watching who aren’t fans of Leeds United, as any football fan has experienced the ups and the downs of football, and the rollercoaster of emotions you are dragged through during a game.
The lack of behind the scenes access, heavily interview-based style, and general Leeds-tinted-glasses style proved to fall happily in to the hands of the club, as the outcome provides a documentary which is highly speaking of the club and the coaching staff, while giving the fans just enough insight to feel as if they were experiencing their championship-winning season alongside their heroes and idols. In reality, however, it paints a story which favours Leeds, and the way the club perceives itself, leaving any neutrals watching in a state of frustration at the lack of any real insight or feel for what it is really like within the inner workings of a football club like Leeds United.