Apart from the subject of Ken Bates as “saviour” of Leeds United, nothing divides the Elland Road faithful more than the current whispers regarding former golden boy Alan Smith. The rumours surrounding his return are growing faster than the grass shoots on the newly seeded pitch where a little over seven years ago Leeds played out their final game in the Premiership and - despite Smith already declaring that he was too good to play in the Championship - the loyal hordes gave him a heroes’ send off, lauded by back slapping fans who carried him off the field on their shoulders and wished him all the best. Had they known he would be racing down the M62 to Old Trafford a few weeks later he might not have made it to the tunnel.
There’s no denying that when he pulled on that famous white shirt he pretty much gave his all. With a good eye for goal and a fearless disregard for reputation he was the type of player Leeds fan love. From the first minute that O’Leary unleashed him at Anfield to the last minute in that final game against Charlton, Smudger was never afraid to get some blood on his boots for the cause. As a local lad and boyhood Leeds fan he played out the dreams of thousands in a team brimming with young talent who, but for the well publicised follies of the board and a pissed up punch up, could have gone on to achieve so much more than a sorry scrapbook of sordid headlines.
Had he gone anywhere other than “there”, I suspect there wouldn’t be that much of an issue about his return, but if we put those hostilities aside we have to ask what he can bring to the club and what can the club bring to his bank account? We don’t really buy players anymore – or pay them very much by other clubs standards. Before anything was put on the table, Smith, or at least his agent, would have to listen to a lecture from Bates about good old fashioned Yorkshire frugality and the shit storm that other lot left. How the holes in the car park won’t fill themselves and how we’re still paying for the other fella’s fish food etc. It wouldn’t take an idiot to deduce that if Alan Smith wanted to come back to Leeds he’d have to start thinking about shopping at Primark.
So many happy memories, but you’re past your best and I’ll never get over the fact you ditched us for that c*** down the road.
Do we need him? Well, as I write we’ve barely anyone left to play in midfield and no goalkeepers. We need anyone that can pull on a pair of f*cking boots. We certainly need a ball winner, but I hear he’s more glass than iron these days. It’s a terrible cliché, but we also need someone who can put their foot on the ball, calm things down a bit, make intelligent decisions and sell a few more shirts in the club shop. We need someone who can pass the ball to one of our own, who can strike a ball cleanly without risking damage to the new corporate boxes. (Beeston is awash with expensive leather footballs, hoofed over the stand by latest splitter Bradley Johnson.) I don’t know if Smith is that man. I haven’t exactly followed his career since he cried those tears of relegation. He should have learnt a lot from playing under old Bacon Face (and whoever is in charge of Newcastle this week), so he’s not going to be the same exuberant, badge kissing youth we recall, but for a balanced assessment of his worth I needed some quick answers.
What did they think of him at Man Utd? I asked a few fans I know, but they don’t actually go to the games so they didn’t have a clue.
What about the office Newcastle fan?
'Just 90 appearances over 4 seasons, 26 yellow cards, 2 red cards, 0 goals. This says everything about Alan Smith's Newcastle United career. By far his best form and run of fitness for Newcastle was in the Championship winning season, which suggests Smith found his level and that it may well be worth Leeds taking the gamble… and the resultant financial hit.'
The hit is currently £60,000 a week. I can almost hear Bates quoting himself… "I haven't laughed so much since Ma caught her ti*s in the mangle…”, but aside from those who think he’s not worth it, or that he’s a “judas” and “scum” and there’ll be civil war on the terraces, there are just as many who are willing to forgive and forget. More worryingly however and – if proof were ever needed about the long term brain damage caused by mobile phone masts then this must be it - is the amount of posts on Twitter clamouring for Grayson to reform the entire 2001 team. Apparently Bowyer and Woodgate are next on the shopping list!
It’s a difficult one, but for me – I’d have to say no thanks. Not this time. You were great first time round Alan, but it would be like getting back with my first girlfriend. So many happy memories, but you’re past your best and I’ll never get over the fact you ditched us for that c*** down the road.
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