Leeds United's minimum requirement, 49ers report and clear Whites history warning: David Prutton

Nearly four months have now passed since 49ers Enterprises took full control of Leeds United and it’s so far so good, writes DAVID PRUTTON.
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I remember being stood in France talking for this column about the weekend where we had Andrea Radrizzani not turning up to the final game of the season. There was lots of conjecture and debate and animosity and venom that was being felt. We saw a very angry fan base who were extremely cheesed off with the ownership and also with the playing staff because of how Leeds had fallen out of the Premier League with a whimper.

We then moved forward into uncharted territory with regards to not knowing what the 49ers were going to bring and who was going to be there or who was going to be in charge. But the 49ers have come in and I think from what I've seen, what I've heard, and what has manifested itself on the football pitch, they've been a steady hand on the tiller.

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It's all been brought into sharper contrast this week with regards to other owners and other football clubs. Leeds know all about it. Putting rivalries aside, when it comes to clubs that are in a little bit of turmoil, I would like to think given the inherent class of Leeds United fans, they've been there.

LINEAGE: From Leeds United's owners to boss Daniel Farke, back, to his Whites players. Farke is pictured with Joe Rodon and Illan Meslier after September's 3-0 victory at Millwall. Picture by George Tewkesbury/PA Wire.LINEAGE: From Leeds United's owners to boss Daniel Farke, back, to his Whites players. Farke is pictured with Joe Rodon and Illan Meslier after September's 3-0 victory at Millwall. Picture by George Tewkesbury/PA Wire.
LINEAGE: From Leeds United's owners to boss Daniel Farke, back, to his Whites players. Farke is pictured with Joe Rodon and Illan Meslier after September's 3-0 victory at Millwall. Picture by George Tewkesbury/PA Wire.

I've been there too when it's been like that and they don't know what's coming and where their next port of call is and they've also had some colourful owners in the interim period and intervening period as well. First and foremost, Leeds needed stability after relegation. It wasn't about coming in and flashing the cash in a way that was unsustainable or done to impress.

But I think there's been a lot to really like and it also helps that kind of lineage between ownership and the people in the hierarchy between Daniel Farke and the ownership and then from Daniel down into the players.Leeds went into last night's clash at Leicester in third place and 14 points behind Leicester. Obviously first place is great and third place is not first place by the very definition of the numbers in front. But I think broadly, it wouldn't be too far out of place to say so far so good under the 49ers at Leeds.

In terms of this season, I think the baseline has to be top six. I hesitate to use the words success and failure and I wish there was a way to structure the sentence that didn't sound like anything under sixth is a failure. But given what I've seen of the division so far and I've seen pretty much every single team in action, I think Leeds have got to be at least a top six side come the end of the season and if they can close the gap to the top two then great.

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Leicester obviously started the season points wise like a train with way more points than Burnley at the same stage last year. And then there is the unknown quantity of second-placed Ipswich and I will never tire of singing their praises because of where they have been, who is in charge, the way he goes about it and the way that they play football. They are a joyous team to watch and it's not by contrast.

You don't just say that because Ipswich were in League One last season that Leeds need to be above them. It's on merit, it's on momentum and it's on the here and now. But given how long it took Leeds to get back to the Premier League and given the glorious highs of that first season and then the meandering lows of eventually getting relegated, I can't think whether you're a realist, a pragmatist, a dreamer or an idealist, sixth or above is absolutely imperative for Leeds.

If it ends up being the play-offs then it's not a disaster as it's still three games to get to the Premier League. But there's so much to happen between now and the end of the season - injuries, suspensions, freak occurrences, losses of form and fitness.

Leeds might yet haul in both Ipswich and Leicester. They might fall off a cliff and be terrible. You never know and there’s still a long way to go.

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But getting back into the Premier League is fundamental to the ongoing stability and success of Leeds. They have to get back into the Premier League. I don't think there's anything really hyperbolic about that. I cover the Championship, I cover Leagues One and Two and I have covered the Premier League in certain junctures.

But the Premier League is where a club the size of Leeds has to be and you can't come away from the finances of it because that's what makes the league and the division as big and as attractive as it is and the tradition of it.

I was stood outside Elland Road the other day doing a bit of filming and Leeds are obviously the last time to win the old First Division. There's history and there's heritage there but the currency of a club of that size and stature is that you've got to be in the Premier League.

That's why it is imperative. Why have Birmingham brought Wayne Rooney in? Is it to build for five years? No, they have brought Wayne Rooney in because they think he can get them into the Premier League. Time will tell whether that was the right decision or not.

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But Leeds' first port of call after getting relegated is dust yourself off and how quickly do we get back in the Premier League? There's no consolidation in the Championship because everyone that comes up wants to beat all the big boys that have come down and everyone that's been stuck in the Champ for a while wants to beat all the big boys that have come down and the big boys want to get back amongst the big boys. It's fundamental to Leeds as a football club that they get back into the Premier League this season.

If you are asking me how important it is that they go back up at the first attempt then what has history told us? Sixteen years. Over 16 years, all the good players go and you don't have to plot out a hypothetical worst case scenario because Leeds have lived that worst case scenario.

You had me playing for you in League One for Christ's sake. That's how that went. That went from glorious nights and weekday nights playing in the Champions League to weekday nights played in the Papa John's or the Checkatrade or EFL Trophy. That's what happens.

Obviously, you have got to dovetail into that mismanagement from a financial point of view and lack of leadership several rungs up the ladder. But I am talking about keeping hold of the players, keeping the players hungry enough and realising as well that a lot of players that got them into the Premier League wouldn't have got there any other way and I mean that with the greatest of respect.

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They got there as a collective and it's changed people's lives. It's changed people's footballing lives and changed people's post-playing lives and that's how big a deal it is to get promoted with Leeds and stay in the Premier League with Leeds. The 49ers will be under no illusions.

The other side of it is that Leeds have got a company in or a collective group of people in that have run a business and that have invested in sport before. I don't know if there's a better way of saying it but they have not come in to mess around in the Championship.

They would have seen American ownership in the Premier League, they would have possibly sought counsel from American ownership in the Premier League. I think the resounding take on that would have been if you're going to invest in a football club, make sure it's one that's either in the Premier League or is about to get in it.