Following simply three seasons within the Premier League, Leeds United have been thrust again into the second tier amid what was a dismal 2022/23 marketing campaign, with it already proving a tough begin to life again within the Championship for Daniel Farke‘s facet.
Such woes are a far cry from the success that the Yorkshire giants endured within the early 2000s, with David O’Leary notably guiding the membership to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001, following a good third-place league end the 12 months prior.
Whereas that glittering interval was introduced crashing to a halt by the membership’s subsequent monetary setbacks – ensuing of their drop out of the highest tier – it stays a time that’s fondly remembered by Whites supporters, explicit for the stellar crop of expertise that graced Elland Street on the time, together with the likes of Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell.
That O’Leary period additionally noticed the rise of an thrilling gem from the academy within the type of Alan Smith, with Farke possible hoping he can unearth one other diamond from the youth set-up within the close to future…
How good was Alan Smith for Leeds?
Regardless of having considerably burned his bridges with the membership after becoming a member of rivals Manchester United in the summertime of 2004, the now-retired ace had thrived after rising up the ranks at Leeds previous to that, notably scoring on his first-team debut away at Anfield in 1998.
The then-teenager would in the end go on to play an important function beneath O’Leary over the subsequent few years regardless of his relative youth, with the versatile attacker – who may function by the center, on the flanks or in midfield – scoring 54 targets in 224 appearances in all competitions for the membership.
Apart from his devastating attacking menace and positional flexibility, what additionally initially endeared Smith to the Leeds crowd was his work-man-like nature and energetic, all-action model, having notably been lauded for these traits by O’Leary following the quarter-final conflict with Deportivo La Coruna in 2001:
“Alan Smith was definitely the person of the match. He was unimaginable. He trod each little bit of grass, he was unbelievable. I hope folks realise he is nonetheless solely 20 years previous and provides him probability to study and develop. We’re very fortunate to have him at Leeds United as a result of he loves taking part in for the membership. He is a winner.”
Discovering such skills within the youth ranks will not be a standard incidence, though present boss Farke may effectively have the ability to discover a appropriate inheritor to the 42-year-old, within the type of thrilling ahead, Sean McGurk.
Who’s Sean McGurk?
The 20-year-old attacker – who can function out huge or in a quantity ten berth – has caught the attention in Yorkshire ever since becoming a member of from Wigan Athletic again in the summertime of 2021, scoring 9 occasions and registering 5 assists in 44 video games at U21 stage so far.
A participant with a “large character to go along with his means” – in response to Yorkshire Night Put up journalist Graham Smyth – the younger Englishman has loved a very spectacular begin to the brand new marketing campaign, scoring three targets and offering one help from simply 4 Premier League 2 outings.
As Smyth additionally said, there’s a “lot to love” in regards to the rising sensation, with the participant himself talking about his “thrilling” attributes upon his arrival on the membership simply over two years in the past:
“Folks describe me as a participant who is kind of thrilling, I prefer to create targets and rating targets and I believe that’s the strongest a part of my sport.”
The ahead’s goalscoring menace was additionally evident throughout his prior stint with the Latics as he netted 3 times in simply 5 video games for the membership’s U18 facet, notably scoring a late winner in opposition to Manchester United at Outdated Trafford – a robust method to endear himself to his present facet.
Though an opportunity at first-team stage has but to emerge for the previous Wigan man, Farke can be sensible to place his religion within the artistic gem because the season progresses, significantly after dropping the likes of Luis Sinisterra and Jack Harrison this summer time.
As was evident with the case of Smith, it may be extremely rewarding seeing an academy expertise blossom right into a star within the senior set-up, with McGurk seemingly having the instruments to have the ability to observe within the footsteps of the previous England worldwide.