The question that Leeds United must avoid, Whites examples and status reality: David Prutton

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Michael Skubala is taking charge of Leeds United's upcoming fixtures and in theory he knows the players.

The change at Leeds to sack Jesse Marsch as head coach was quite obviously made for one simple reason which was to keep them safe. Consequently, Skubala's first and only remit is to make sure that come the end of the season Leeds are safe. Whether there is yet another decision to be made remains to be seen.

Leeds appointed Jesse Marsch relatively late in the season last year but if you are bringing someone in when it's March or April time then it's not necessarily the most common practice. I thought Leeds were competitive against Manchester United at Elland Road last weekend without really creating anything. When Man United have got the calibre of players that they have got they will cause you problems and do what they did.

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There are continually fine margins in these games for Leeds, competitive as ever but just not creating anything to be clinical about. But all the right noises are coming out about Skubala as a coach and his staff and there is plenty to be very positive about.

CRUNCH TIME: For Leeds United, caretaker boss Michael Skubala, left, and midfielder star Tyler Adams, right. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.CRUNCH TIME: For Leeds United, caretaker boss Michael Skubala, left, and midfielder star Tyler Adams, right. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.
CRUNCH TIME: For Leeds United, caretaker boss Michael Skubala, left, and midfielder star Tyler Adams, right. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

Leeds sacked Marsch and subsequently hit stumbling blocks in their attempts to bring in a successor but it's the very nature of football. Jesse felt like a sliding doors moment where you had Marcelo Bielsa on his way out and Jesse on his way in. Now you have got a reaction clashing with proaction. Reactively, you get rid of Jesse because you think you are on a run of form that is going to take you back into the bottom three.

But is there a presumption that if Leeds United come calling that a manager is just going to walk out of his club and go to you? If so, it's not the soundest base to move forward regarding a change in management and structure.

But then that is the very nature of football and it's like transfers with players - we want this player so we will do whatever we can to get him. If the club says no then the player has to start kicking up a fuss. It's hard because to point the finger and say there is no succession plan kind of negates the nature of football which is very, very reactive.

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Leeds made a change with Marcelo, Jesse was ready to go and Jesse did the job that was needed which was to keep them in the division. As well as Bielsa had done, that squad of players and the way that they were playing seemed to be on their way out of the Premier League. Now we have had a year's worth of Jesse and they are in pretty much exactly the same spot.

Whether it's Skubala who gets them to safety or someone else getting them to safety, that's their only remit and their only port of call. It's hard to pass judgement because in a perfect world one manager goes and another one comes in, such is the very brutal nature of what the profession is.

But Andoni Iraola is at Rayo Vallecano and doing very, very well in a tough league up against giants whilst Arne Slot is going great guns at Feyenoord in the Dutch League. Then there are other names getting thrown into the hat and then it just becomes a discussion about what is going to be suitable for Leeds in the next couple of months rather than any kind of form of building something which I think goes out of the window.

I think the minute that any form of threat to Premier League existence comes into any football club it's almost a case of we just need to be safe. Jesse was very much about the process and the way that the team was playing. But Leeds weren't getting results so with the greatest respect it doesn't matter.

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Leeds go to Everton tomorrow before hosting Southampton next weekend and the size of those games is absolutely phenomenal. Even though we are only in February, this is real platform building to make sure that the rest of the season pans out and finishes how Leeds fans want it to. They are massive games.

For Leeds, there are more games than these to make up points but for the atmosphere around the club, for the chatter on social media and for everything about the atmosphere at Elland Road and on the road, these games are huge.

Southampton have been poor, Everton have been poor and Leeds are not having a magnificent season given they are spending a lot of time near the bottom three. If they have got any form of belief or assumption that they are a Premier League football team then you put teams like Southampton and Everton to bed.

Manager wise, whoever Leeds have as their next manager will be a gamble. It was a gamble bringing Jesse in which paid off. But then it moves on and it can't be a case of getting safe and then we'll build. It's a case of getting safe every single year for the next four, five, six or seven years.

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That's just the way it is playing catch up to the teams that you could call mid ranking teams in the Premier League. Leeds are 16 years behind this lot and look at how Brentford are run and how Brighton are run. Look at Leicester City coming back into it.

People were talking about Leicester being relegation fodder but they are a good club, a good team and they have won the Premier League and all the chat about Leeds for the foreseeable future is about being safe. It's funny because people will read this column and maybe look for answers or solutions. I haven't got any.

I don't know whether Skubala is the man, I have no idea whether someone who is out of work like Steven Gerrard would be the man and I've got no idea whether the fella at Feyenoord is the man. I've no idea whether Iraola is the man. I've got absolutely no idea.

All I know is that this is a competitive group of players that can survive in the Premier League so regardless of who comes in and how they put the team out and how they set them up, it's up to the players to perform.

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You are looking next at an Everton team that has struggled and a Southampton side that has got its manager sacked after getting another manager sacked. If you can't beat them then should you really deserve to be in the Premier League?

If there's any aspirations of Leeds moving forward and becoming what it was 16-17-18 years ago then it's about putting teams like this to the sword. It absolutely is and there's no two ways about it at all.