Why a move back to Leeds for the ‘O’Leary Babies’ could be best for player and club


After going home back to the sticks for a fortnight to adorn myself with ink and watch the Champions League final, I was horrified to discover I had no internet to post my often aimless and whimsical comments on the beautiful game, however I have the internet back now and in three whole weeks, I’ve had nothing really noteworthy to write about concerning the Premiership/Championship, or anything that has been noteworthy is now considered old news.

That changed this morning when I read on a very large sports website’s page that my beloved Leeds United were weighing up the possibility of bringing some of the players from the club’s ‘Living the Dream’ era. That is Alan Smith, Lee Bowyer, and Jonathan Woodgate coming back to Elland Road for a few more seasons; an idea that has divided sections of the Leeds support, particularly over the issue of bringing back home-grown hero Alan Smith for the first time since his tearful exit to those red shirted types across the Pennines.

When Leeds collapsed with the incredible force of Jade Goody when she run that marathon that one time back in 2003/04 season, the question raised when the die was finally cast was what would happen to the star players left in the squad. By all intents and purposes, the team that Leeds went down with was more than capable of a top eight Premiership finish. This, paired with the fact that Leeds could only afford to allow the players to go on the first offer received meant that as a thirteen year old, I was forced to watch my team being forcibly ripped apart thanks to careless gambling by a man who has since almost brought Cardiff City to financial ruin through careless gambling.

The ship was set in motion by the sale of Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle despite assurances he would be going nowhere, and was finally sealed with the sale of Alan Smith to our bitterest rivals. For the players to come back to the club that gave them the chance to shine would be an excellent opportunity to re-establish themselves as decent players after (Bowyer aside) some torrid times at their successive clubs post-Leeds.

Whilst there may be a little bit of hostility towards Smith, supporters have to take into account that he only accepted the move to United as it was the best option for Leeds at the time. With time, and with the right amount of effort from the man himself, I’m sure the minority will be turned and he’ll be universally appreciated by all four corners of the Leeds support.

The obvious question to raise is, where and how to utilize the players if the rumours are true. With the exit of Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny inevitable, and Richard Naylor released, the positions are open for all three players to fill. Both Bowyer and Smith are hard tackling midfielders capable of popping up with a vital goal when it’s needed (see Bowyer’s 90th minute winner against Derby in ’97) and are perfect players to fit into the void left when Kilkenny departs for the greener pastures of Hull, and Johnson makes a stab at Premiership football only to find Premiership players require a half decent first touch.

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