‘A step above’ - Leeds United chief makes Newcastle United and Aston Villa comparison
The Whites will visit St James Park on New Years Eve as they round off a challenging 2022.
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Leeds United director of football Victor Orta has admitted he dreams of returning the Elland Road club to European competition - but conceded the likes of Newcastle United and Aston Villa are ‘a step above’ his club.
The Whites have endured a challenging 12 months after spending the majority of the year at the wrong end of the Premier League table. Former RB Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch replaced the highly popular Marcelo Bielsa and led the club away from the relegation zone on the final day of last season but inconsistent form has continued to hamper his side during the current campaign.
A positive start to the season brought seven points from a visit to Southampton and home games with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea - but that quickly subsided into a run of eight games without a win. The Whites showed their undoubted quality with a historic win at Liverpool before they came out on top in a seven-goal thriller against Bournemouth in early November.
But a defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in their final game before the World Cup break means Leeds will head into Thursday night’s home clash with reigning champions Manchester City sat just two points and three places above the relegation zone. Despite their struggles, Orta wants to restore the Whites into contention for a European place and admitted they have some way to go as they play catch-up with the likes of Newcastle and Villa.
He told Spanish publication Diario AS: “Anything between 10th and 13th, 10th and 14th is a very good season. Getting three consecutive years in the Premier (League) after 17 years out of it, stabilising the structure, the ideas and perhaps, little by little, moving on to more ambitious projects.
“It is very difficult and very competitive, even outside the top-six there are rivals like Newcastle and Aston Villa that seem like a step above. Personally, I have the dream of returning this team to its place, which is to play in European competition because it has already done so, because it has done so successfully.
“It’s not easy, but the fans demand it, I don’t know if through a cup classification, hopefully through a league classification. But I think that immobility in football is one of the worst defects.”
Leeds will round off 2022 with a visit to Newcastle on New Years Eve.