WITW Is: David O'Leary!
When George Graham became Leeds United manager in 1996 following Howard Wilkinson`s sacking, he brought with him a young man who had indeed played in the club colours but was well known for being an Arsenal Hero.
That man, Republic of Ireland international David O`Leary. O`Leary had been a player at Arsenal for 19 years before joining Leeds United in the 1993/94 season. He was a regular with us until Achilles trouble knocked him out of the first team. Despite numerous attempts to come back, he announced his retirement from playing aged 37.
When George Graham went off to Spurs, to do just about the same that every Spurs manager before him (and indeed since) have done...nothing, O`Leary was given the chance to apply, and subsequently the Leeds board tried to sign Martin O`Neill. It turned out that this deal went sour and so David O`Leary was thrust into the hot-seat at Elland Road.
At the end of his first season, O`Leary had guided Leeds to 4th in the league, and indeed the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, however it was to be the following season where O`Leary made a name for himself.
The Champions League semi-final defeat was a major positive, as well as negative point. It showed that Leeds United were a major force in English, and indeed European football. The only downside is that after this, things went rather sour for our man from London/Dublin ;)
By June 2002, David O`Leary had splashed out a hideous £100million
on new players, for very little reward. With the club spiralling into debt, the chairman of the time, one Peter Ridsdale sacked O`Leary, despite the manager never finishing outside of the top 5 in the league.
Leeds` fortunes didn`t seem to get much better despite getting rid of their big spender…hey big spender dodododo!
3 prolific managers, El Tel, Peter Reid (in my opinion one of the worst managers..ever,) and Eddie Gray all tried their hardest but Leeds couldn`t be saved from relegation in 2003/4. O`Leary`s legacy? Well the young players he gave first team chances to, some of which have gone on to become household names in the Premiership a la Woodgate, Bowyer, Smith, Kewell, Bakke (uhh?)
David had a bit of time off to do some gardening, or whatever it is failed managers do once they are sacked before being given what must be one of the hardest jobs in the Premiership, working for "Deadly" Doug Ellis." Finishing 16th thanks to Graham Taylor`s second attempt at success with the club, it was up to O`Leary to try and salvage something from a squad not really sure of where it was going. A debut season finish of 6th place gave a lot of confidence to Villa fans, who are notorious for complaining a lot (they will argue they have/had a lot to complain about!)
The next few seasons however did indeed give the grumbling midlanders plenty to grumble about! I have it on good authority from a Villa fan that David O'Leary, when talking to the media used the phrase "When I was at Leeds" 428,837 times. Just what you want to hear baring in mind what he did to us! More worryingly he very often called his squad an "honest bunch of lads." O`Leary is also famous for one of the most comic bits of thinking ever from a football manager, trying to believe that Carlton Cole was ever going to be a Premiership quality footballer.
One of the best things that I`ve heard coming from O'Leary's reign was his rapport with the fans. With results not going too well, there was many a call for O`Leary, and his boss man Deadly Doug to leave the club. How did our David sort this problem out? He insulted the fans! Calling the fans fickle, and some "sugarbags" was certainly not going to help matters now was it David. By the way, do you have the tropical fish?
We come to the end of this brief history of one of the more comical managers in Premiership history with his end in management, so far. After apparently orchestrating a player protest at the lack of transfer funds, Deadly wielded the axe once more (not literally of course, being 236 years old he had to wield a proverbial axe) and O`Leary was a Gooner, er..I mean gonner.
Despite many many many many many (MANY) jobs being available, in all divisions great and small, O'Leary hasn`t seemed to be able to pick up a new club to manage (funny that.) We`ve had some brief appearances during Champions League nights of Dolly on the Telly working for ITV but very little has been seen or heard so we do ask this question:
Where in the world, is David O'Leary?
Answers on a postcard, contribute to the forum or leave a comment!
(Told you it was a good one to start off!)