HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom says Leeds United must fight “tooth and nail” to turn themselves into promotion contenders against wealthier sides in the Championship, but that promotion would consequently be even sweeter as a result.
United return to action after the international break with tomorrow’s Championship hosting of relegation-battling Bolton Wanderers which falls on the same day as the deadline for current season ticket holders to renew their tickets for the same price.
Having led the division after their first seven games, Leeds now look destined for another season in the Championship having slipped to 14th and 12 points off the play-offs with just eight games left.
United managing director Angus Kinnear has already admitted that “lessons had been learned” this year but the MD said Leeds would be looking at an “exciting summer” with a play-offs place next season’s clear goal, an objective the club feel is “achievable based on our resources and the scale of our fan base”.
Against sides with bigger budgets and parachute payments coming down from the Premier League, Heckingbottom says pure hard graft will be needed to eventually achieve promotion, but that such success at United would lead to an even bigger celebration as a result.
“I have been in and about the place now for a few weeks now and we have got to fight tooth and nail to get back up there,” said Heckingbottom.
“It’s not going to be given to us, I have said before what we are competing against and the finance of the other clubs coming down and the parachute payments and things like that.
“But we have all got to know our roles in helping to achieve the club get back there and we have all got to understand how hard it is going to be.
“But that will only make it that more rewarding when it does happen.”
Heckingbottom is also urging his side to cut out the individual mistakes which the head coach says are currently costing United dear.
Leeds have the worst record in the division over the last 14 games, a period in which they have picked up just eight points.
Heckingbottom reasoned: “You could sit here and say should have, would have, could have, of course you can, all the time.
“But you get what you deserve so there’s reasons why.
“Even when we have put in good performances but you don’t get the results that you want, usually it is down to errors and that’s the things that we know are really important and that have dogged us for a long time now, and the things that we need to put right.
“We are a long, long way away from where we want to be.”