‘Take Me Home’ – A review of Leeds United’s captivating documentary
“Football is just a game.”
At face value, the words of Leeds United’s director of football Victor Orta ring true however negatively the avid followers and lovers of the sport may feel towards his comment. Football is indeed just a game. Nevertheless, from viewing Leeds United’s ‘Take Me Home’ – season 2 documentary, the game of football extends well beyond the realms of such a simplistic verdict.
A short and concise series packed with a raw mix of emotion, passion, personality and excitement. While many have reflected on the success of the ‘All or Nothing’ series with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds’ ‘Take Me Home’ showpiece should not be overlooked. If the ‘All or Nothing’ series offers the thrills and spills of running a football club, Leeds United’s evolution through ‘Take Me Home’ runs much deeper.
Not only are we drawn into the experiences and standpoints of the players, managers and owners, but given a deep dive into the lives and comforts of a number of diehard Leeds fans. Viewers aren’t just hearing what the club wants them to hear, but are provided with a full detailed picture of the nature, the history and the ethos of the club through thought provoking dialogues of mere strangers which allows the viewers to be fully connected and empathize with the content provided.
There’s a real transparency and authenticity that seeps right from the owner Andrea Radrizzani and CEO Angus Kinnear right down to the fans. For example, the interviews given by Kinnear on Leeds finances and the simple conversations he would have with the owner to acquire funding for player recruitment: “Every month for last season I have to write him an email and I have to request pretty much one and a half million pounds to keep club running and every month he says yes.” Throughout the series both Angus Kinnear and Andrea Radrizzani go into explicit detail about how the club is run which throws up the issue of whether there is a need for the public to be fed this information or is it material that should be kept disclosed?
For the purpose of the documentary – a demonstration of the club’s culture, history, long-term vision and triumph under one of football’s most celebrated figures – the public do in fact hold the right to understand the process in which the club aims to fulfil its primary vision.
‘Take Me Home’ is indeed a success in that sense, and while it pretty much takes a completely biased route, solely given the viewers an illustration of those involved with the club and those associated with it. However, its fresh material on the backdrop of an up-an-down history ever since their relegation back down to the football league 16 years ago provides viewers, particularly the ones who have no knowledge or understanding of the club with a relatively satisfying experience.
We are led through a rollercoaster ride of sentiment and compassion, especially though Victor Orta, the club’s director of football, who’s passion and charisma makes the whole series a lot more convincing. Orta’s comedic, emotional and abrupt responses throughout completely erases the series’ bias. We aren’t provided with a diluted experience, but one of truth and authenticity. Leeds may indeed be controlling the narrative with media executives and club journalists, but are selling viewpoints and information that provides its viewers with some sort of pride and connection to what’s being told; they are left wanting more which is handled through very personal narratives of both the footballers and their families.
Media execs and club journalists having a vast input could indeed be problematic. Aren’t they supposed to be the eye and ears of the public or are they solely pushing the club’s agenda? Though, having such an impact on the series could be part and parcel of their job description. If the club develops a positive reputation and porous ovation for this series, then they’ve done their jobs. The purpose of the series has been achieved.
Even so, the public is driven into the home comforts and private lives of the players re-emphasizing the series’ credibility. It’s beyond bias but it works and sells. The club aims to give its viewers the full and honest picture on who the players are outside of the game and also how they aim to reach their objectives as a collective.
To conclude, Leeds United’s ‘Take Me Home’ series represents a vital success, a series which aimed to provide viewers with a taste of the culture, history, fanbase and to embark on a short and concise journey of the club’s achievements serves its purpose. However biased the series may be, its unique material and authenticity through the roles served by those at the head of the club, the players and the fans cannot be questioned, but celebrated.