SKY Sports presenter David Prutton believes his former club Leeds United should have “nothing to fear” in next season’s Championship and that head coach Marcelo Bielsa has all the credentials to finally take the Whites up.
Leeds are heading for a 16th consecutive season outside of the country’s top flight having fallen short in last season’s automatic promotion bid before experiencing heartache in the play-offs.
Having only dropped out of the top two in the last month of the season, a third-placed finish led to a play-off semi-final against Derby County who recorded a 4-3 success on aggregate to book their place in the final at Wembley.
The Rams fell short with Villa promoted through a 2-1 victory and joining Championship winners Norwich City and runners-up Sheffield United in the Premier League next season.
Leeds will have to try again but Bielsa is staying on for another year and United have been made favourites to make amends in the ultimate style by winning the division next term.
The Whites will have relegated trio Fulham, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town to contend with along with newly-promoted Luton Town, Barnsley and Charlton Athletic but former Whites midfielder Prutton is upbeat about United’s chances, especially with 63-year-old Argentinian Bielsa again at the helm.
“It will be another tough ask, regardless of how well they have done this season,” said Prutton.
“You have got teams that are coming up in Luton, Barnsley and Charlton that will have momentum and a real confidence about them and then you have got the teams who have come down in Fulham, Cardiff and Huddersfield.
“From what we saw of Cardiff last season, unless Neil Warnock has a complete overhaul, I don’t think there will be anything too surprising about what they bring.
“As for Fulham, they could be anything. They were a good footballing side getting out of the Championship and they have had their bottoms spanked for the best part of a season in the Premier League. They will pose a threat in a certain way but I don’t think there’s anything for Leeds to be too fearful of and who knows what Huddersfield are?
“The way they went about replacing the coaching staff for absolutely zero impact means that they have got questions to answer going into the new season.
“For Leeds, there’s nothing in that division to be fearful about though we all know that it is such a competitive division.
“I will be intrigued to see what Barnsley and Luton can do and Charlton are another side that can pose a threat so I think it will be another very competitive division.
“The reason Leeds are favourites is because of how well they did last year but I think the thing they have got to be wary of is that last season they were a surprise package and while I’m not saying people will have now worked them out, they might know what’s coming and forewarned is forearmed so it will be an even bigger ask to make sure they go up in an automatic spot.
“But with Bielsa in charge, you get the feeling that he is as good as anyone around and that he can take them up.”