Togetherness, belief, patience, and skill will see Leeds United prosper - David Prutton

HAVING waited 16 years for this moment to come around – with many heartbreaking events to endure along the way – Leeds United are now just one day away from experiencing Premier League football once again.

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 5:45 am
Updated Saturday, 12th September 2020, 11:08 am

So long had they been outside the top flight, I think there was almost a sense of disbelief after they finally secured promotion – an achievement enhanced by then going on to win the Championship title.

Now you can feel the prospect of Premier League football in and around the area.

Yes, we are living in the strangest of times and that’s the poignant note that you have to sound going into the new season.

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TOGETHER: Leeds United celebrate Helder Costa's strike in the 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City back in July. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

You think of how huge, vociferous and boisterous the travelling support would have been for that first game of the season at Liverpool tomorrow evening.

But, fear not, Leeds United’s fans will get their chance to sing loud and proud at some stage.

For now, they can sit there and watch Leeds take on the champions of England safe in the knowledge that they have a team they can be absolutely proud of.

It’s going to be a fierce battle between tomorrow’s opening encounter and the end of the campaign to make sure that Leeds are still in the Premier League conversation for the following season.

But, without any hint of bias, it sounds right and feels right having Leeds back in the Premier League. It is something to be fully embraced and savoured.

In terms of what Leeds should be looking to achieve, you can look at Sheffield United and the example that they set last season while, before their relegation last season, Bournemouth are another example of how to go about things in the top flight.

Then there are the likes of Wolves and Burnley, clubs that have gone up, stayed up and prospered.

But I still think that for any team that has been promoted, consolidation has to be the initial priority.

I understand Leeds talking about shooting for the stars, absolutely I do get that – you don’t have someone like Marcelo Bielsa in charge just to get by.

But you have also got to be realistic.

We saw what Leeds did against Arsenal for 45 minutes in January’s FA Cup tie – but we also saw what happens when you don’t put a Premier League team to bed. More often than not, you lose.

These will be cautionary tales that Leeds are aware of but they have got to attack what lies ahead in the same way they have attacked the last couple of seasons in the Championship – without fear and with a real togetherness.

I’m not just talking about the more holistic and cerebral things like feelings, I am talking about how they react best to the many questions that every single Premier League match will throw up at them.

Leeds will be up against elite opposition on a regular basis – but these players will know that, Bielsa will know that, the fans will know that.

We have seen what Manchester City can do to teams, we have seen what Leicester City on their very best days are capable of.

We have seen the model of success in the shape of Liverpool.

You look at Chelsea and the way that they have absolutely tooled up - the list goes on.

There’s a part of it all that will seem daunting but Leeds have got to approach the next few months with optimism, while also realising how tough life in the top flight is going to be.

It is going to be one hell of a ride and even those teams that you would perhaps file as unglamorous know their way around the Premier League.

Clearly, staying up is the first priority.

Leeds know that working hard and navigating a very tricky season takes patience, belief, strength of character, speed, skill, tactical nous and a lot of self-awareness, too

Leeds need to take all these points on board.

Make no mistake, finishing 17th or above will be an absolute triumph and I absolutely believe Leeds are capable of doing that. Anything above that is a bonus, partly because of how long they have been away from the division.

We have seen the approach of different teams going up, Fulham going up and coming down in recent years, Norwich doing the same. By contrast, Burnley and Newcastle have made it look more comfortable.

Bielsa has given his players one hell of a foundation to build on, helped by the support of the club ownership and management team and boosted even further by the brilliant fans, who made themselves heard towards the end of last season, despite not being at games.

It is those fans that have stuck with the club through the darkest times, hoping they will get back to where they believe they deserve to be.

We hear football fans up and down the country talking about ‘deserving’ to be in the Premier League.

Nobody deserves to be in the Premier League until you actually get back there.

Leeds are steeped in history and tradition and with a roll call of players of the very highest calibre.

Theirs are the shoulders stood on by the current squad, who must now go on and create their own little piece of history.

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890.

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Thank you Laura Collins