David Prutton: Rewarded players must return the favour with Leeds United promotion to the Premier League

'LEADER': Leeds United captain Liam Cooper who has signed a new five-year deal. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.
'LEADER': Leeds United captain Liam Cooper who has signed a new five-year deal. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.
0
Have your say

LEEDS UNITED are not messing around with Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas all signing new contracts this week.

And they are covering slightly different bases really.

You have got the bright young thing in Kalvin and that's not to say Liam is old by any stretch of the imagination but he has managed to work his way into a position of relative responsibility and trust from the manager.

He has played under several managers now at Leeds and he has stuck around which suggests his ability first and foremost but is also credit to his job and professionalism that all managers who have been there to have taken to him.

The fact the lads voted him captain also shows his stature within the dressing room and within the squad so that's a good sign.

And with Stuart we have seen him cope well thrown into all different kinds of positions and Marcelo Bielsa is evidently looking at someone like him as someone who the more able he is to play in different positions, the more value he is to the squad.

They are three different players and three different approaches to what the contract extensions mean and different perceptions of how they will come across to the fans.

I think if you look at the Kalvin one, I would suggest that would have been unequivocally across the board accepted and respected and celebrated.

I wouldn't say Liam necessarily divides opinion but there are different opinions on him but I think the majority of Leeds fans see someone who is reliable and part of the club in the way that he understands the role and understands the responsibility.

He seems to get what it means to be a Leeds United player, as with Kalvin and as with Stuart.

I'm not saying you give out contracts because of that as you give contracts out because you know the player is going to perform but the next level for all three of these players is to reward the club's confidence in them by giving them and the fans what they are absolutely desperate for which is promotion.

With the Kalvin deal, you look at it from a Leeds United point of view of having him around and how he has come through and rewarding his development and rewarding everything about what that young man has done at the club so far. He deserves that reward.

But on the flip side, if someone comes knocking on the door maybe at the end of the season then Leeds can turn around and say 'we don't want £25m, we want £35m.'

It helps to protect the future investment in him.

Cooper's five-year deal takes him to the summer of 2024 when he will be nearly 33 which seems like 'the future.'

If you are a player that's absolutely brilliant.

But it's the gauntlet thrown down. It's saying 'this is how much we value you, can you continue to show us why we value you in such a way?'

If somebody would have come to me when I was 28 with a five-year contract I would have been celebrating. You would be raising the roof and you would be absolutely buzzing.

Unless you are at the top end or at least the upper reaches of the Premier League then four or five year contracts are not as prevalent as you would think they are because of the unknown perilous nature of what it is to be a football club.

I think they are very fortunate but when I say fortunate I don't mean fortunate in the sense of being offered a contract but in the timing of being at Leeds United and they have worked their way into this position of good fortune.

But that comes with being diligent and hard working and Liam being the leader that he is and Stuart not necessarily being the first name on the team sheet but as and when he has been called upon he has been very reliable and multifaceted.

It is very much a boost for the squad.

It's not the kind of common way of doing things in giving out that length of contract to players in their late 20s but when you have got Bielsa in charge did you ever think it was going to be a normal way of running things?

Leeds return to action at Barnsley on Sunday and it's a game they need to win. They need to win every single game.

You can say that in a very straight forward manner but that is the case for a team with aspirations of going up in the top two.

The common sense contribution to that is that you need to win as many games as you possibly can.

Barnsley are tough and we saw last season how they played in a style that was high energy.

They like to dominate the football and exert themselves on their opponents, especially at home.

Their first port of call is quite obviously coming back in the Championship and consolidating.

Looking at them and how well Charlton have done, it goes to show that it's not just a straight line of coming back into the Championship and it going absolutely as smoothly as possible.

But I think in Daniel Stendel that I have got a coach who is having first taste of management in this country at this level and if they are safe by the end of the season he will have done a cracking job.

But Leeds have got to be very wary of them and the fixture is being played not too far from each other in a county that we all know, love and respect.

You can never take that edge away from it.