David Prutton: A defining summer ahead for Leeds United

Leeds United are still on with their attempts to get Marcelo Bielsa to sign up for another year and I suppose it depends on what Bielsa wants and how he goes about asking for it.

By David Prutton
Monday, 27th May 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 27th May 2019, 7:00 am
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.

Bielsa has got a lot of credit in the bank and has bonded the club and the fans back together.

The fans at Leeds will always be there but it seems like there has been a real sense of community about the whole place and the whole operation and it’s ironic that it’s taken someone from another continent to do that.

Bielsa should be applauded for what he has done and we should take stock and have a serious debrief of why the team didn’t quite get over the line.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Leeds also need to be keeping their best players and Kalvin Phillips is the first name that jumps out because of what he has managed to do and fair play to him.

He has conducted himself in a humble way, played with a great humility and opened his mind and his eyes to what Marcelo has wanted from him.

He has taken criticism on the chin, he’s taken being dragged off after half an hour on the chin, he’s played in several different positions and never said anything to detract from the team ethic.

He is a fine young man and a fine footballer who will be coveted by teams in the Premier League. It is imperative that he is kept hold of.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

With the younger players that have come in and dipped their toes in, the likes of Jack Clarke and others – they are the future, but we have seen players like them depart before.

I had the pleasure of playing with the likes of Jonny Howson who went on to play Premier League football away from the club that brought him through. Fabian Delph has gone on to captain England away from the club that brought him through, and you can’t be too blase.

I understand that Andrea Radrizzani will have offers and if someone comes in and says here’s £15m for Kalvin then you have to stand back and say that’s a lot of money for a player that has only ever played in the second tier.

It’s a very fine balancing act.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Andrea has already admitted that Leeds will face a difficult summer in the transfer market and there’s plenty of talk about Leeds doing more in terms of loaning players from Premier League clubs.

I was chatting to someone the other day about the possibility of John Terry going in at Middlesbrough and they were saying about him working his contacts and all that sort of thing. You look at the Frank Lampard situation and what he has done with Derby by bringing loan players in and it is important that those big name managers reach out to players.

But when a club has a recruitment department it is their job to get players in and they have got to work night and day and fight tooth and nail to get the best players in for the right financial package and for the right position.

People will have watched Leeds under Marcelo this season, seen what he has done and heard all the good stories and hopefully that means that they are going to get people in on loan that want to buy into how he does things and what he has managed to achieve with a squad of players that across the board had reached a certain level of performance.

Leeds United's Jack Clarke tussles with Derby's Tom Lawrence.

Bielsa has brought them on and for any younger player I think it would be one hell of a experience to come and play for someone like him.

I don’t see why that shouldn’t be an avenue that Leeds shouldn’t wholeheartedly go and explore.

Leeds had Izzy Brown, Jamal Blackman and Lewis Baker on loan from Chelsea last season and Jack Harrison from Manchester City but why haven’t Leeds got Liverpool loanees, other Manchester City loanees, Man United loanees and Tottenham loanees?

If Mauricio Pochettino loves Bielsa and Pep Guardiola loves him then why are they not using those connections to try and get these players to United?

I’m making it out to be relatively simple and I understand that it’s not as simple as that. Leeds need someone to score 25 goals, someone to be consistent across the course of the season and a leader in midfield and every single one of those players costs money in both a transfer fee and wages and I’m not saying it’s simple.

But that’s what the recruitment department does, brings in players that the manager needs and wants. Today sees the Championship play-off final between Aston Villa and Derby and from the outset I thought that Villa would have a very strong chance.

But I just saw something different from Derby against Leeds. Leeds fans know that there is a fine line between enjoying the moment in the semi-final and then making sure that your feet are back on the ground and that you perform in the final.

But there is something about the way Frank Lampard has set that team up and something about the character of the side in what they will have gained in overcoming the odds against Leeds that really sets them in good stead.

As much as there has been the ‘bridesmaid’ situation with Derby over the years, I think they are in a good position because there will be a lot of expectation about Villa after what happened at the final last year. If you are Leeds fan, my advice to you is: fingers crossed for the weather, put the barbecue on, switch the telly off, get the beers out, reminisce, chat about what was good and muse about what could possibly be done better next season. And then you pay your money and get back on the rollercoaster again, hoping next time it ends in a different place.

Today: Championship play-off final, Aston Villa v Derby – Sky Sports Main Event, 2pm.