David Prutton outlines what should be Leeds United's first priority in the Premier League
FORMER Whites midfielder David Prutton believes targeting the required points for Premier League safety should be Leeds United’s first port of call.
Leeds are heading for a return to the country’s top flight for the first time since the club’s relegation in May 2004 having stormed to promotion as 2019-20 Championship title winners.
United are already taking fairly high rank in next season’s betting markets with Leeds long odds on to stay up and with Whites chairman Andrea Radrizzani and chief executive Angus Kinnear eyeing the example of last season’s Championship runners-up Sheffield United who finished ninth in their first season back.
Yet at the other end of the table, established top flight sides Bournemouth and Watford were relegated along with last season’s Championship winners Norwich City and Prutton says the Whites need to initially focus on ensuring they are once again a Premier League side come the start of the next campaign in 2021.
Prutton told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “We have looked at the road map laid down by Sheffield United and we have looked at Bournemouth, an established Premier League club under Eddie Howe who has done a fantastic job and he is rightly lauded as a hero there but that time has come to an end.
“For the teams who have established themselves in the Premier League, that is a huge, huge achievement.
“But as much as Leeds is Leeds United and they are happy to be back mixing it with the big boys, they are back to being a shareholder in the Premier League and they want to make sure that they are in the same meetings at the start of next season.
"That has got to be the first port of call.
“After that, then you start believing and then you can start dreaming over what could possibly come next.
"But you have got to sprint towards whatever magical points margin is deemed to be needed for safety and anything after that is wonderful.
“That’s not me being negative or too humble with their aspirations, you have got to be realistic.
“That’s not dialling down any ambition because we know Leeds is a huge football club that has conquered this country when it comes to being the best.
“But to get back to consistently challenging takes a foundation and building blocks, not yo-yoing between the divisions because of parachute money.
“It takes planning and forethought as has been the case since Andrea has been in and that has got to be cherished and held on to.”
Eight sides are rated more likely to go down than Leeds in the Premier League relegation betting market with Championship runners-up West Brom 11-10 favourites for the drop.
Play-off winners Fulham are next at 11-8 followed by 2019 Championship play-off winners Aston Villa who only stayed up by a point and a place at Bournemouth’s expense.
Leeds are 1-5 to stay up.
Prutton added: “West Brom and Fulham both have a recent history of the Premier League.
“Fulham went up and came down the same way but West Brom were part of the furniture for a long time so let’s not discount what they have got.
“Villa came remarkably close to dropping through the safety net and, given the margins of other seasons, it might have been different.”
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Thank you Laura Collins