Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
Leeds United/City Captains
Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games
Leeds United/City Reserves and Other Teams

O'Leary: David Anthony (David)

1998-2002 (Manager Details) (Manager Details) (Player Details)

Born in Stoke Newington, London on 2nd May 1958, but living in Dublin from the age of three, O'Leary had a long and distinguished career for Arsenal and the Republic of Ireland and finished his playing career with Leeds United. Voted by Arsenal fans as the number fourteen 'Greatest-Ever Arsenal Player' he joined Arsenal in 1973 and played an Arsenal all-time record for appearances, with seven hundred and twenty-two first-team games, of which five hundred and fifty-eight were in League matches, in a twenty-year long association with the club. In his time at Arsenal he won two League Championship medals in 1989 and 1991, two FA Cup Winners' medals in 1979 and 1993 and two League Cup Winners' medals in 1987 and 1993. He won sixty-eight caps for the Republic of Ireland and scored one goal. Joining Leeds in July 1993 at the age of thirty-five, he suffered Achilles tendon problems and played only ten games before retiring in September 1995, but he stayed on at Elland Road as a defensive coach. When George Graham replaced Howard Wilkinson as Manager at Leeds in September 1996, he installed O'Leary as his Assistant. The pair transformed the fortunes of the side that had spent the past four years underachieving for aclub of its stature. George Graham was the ideal master to learn the managerial trade from and he occupied the position for two years until Graham moved to Tottenham. Having taken Leeds to eleventh place in the League in 1996/97, and fifth place in 1997/98, George Graham handed the reigns over to O'Leary on a temporary basis on his departure. The Leeds board offered the Manager's position to Martin O'Neill but his club Leicester City would not release him and so Leeds turned to O'Leary as a second choice and O'Leary finally took over permanently in October 1998. He then steered Leeds United towards fourth place in the League in 1998/99, an UEFA Cup Semi-Final in 1999/2000, and a third place in the League in that season, fourth place in the League in 2000/01 and also a European Cup semi- final in the same season and Leeds were always in the hunt for major honours at home and in Europe during his reign. At the end of 1998-99 Leeds finished fourth in the Premiership and qualified for the UEFA Cup. With Lee Bowyer and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink establishing themselves as stars in their own rights, the return of David Batty and the emergence of Harry Kewell, Jonathan Woodgate and Ian Harte as regulars and Alan Smith showing promise, O'Leary had started to give youth a chance and to build his own team. Apart from the fourth place finish O'Leary had seen his side progress well in the UEFA Cup but unfortunately they had encountered a very strong Roma side in the Second Round but had fought well to lose by the only goal in a two-legged tie. O'Leary had appointed Eddie Gray as his Assistant Manager and he particularly had taken the fine United Junior team, seen them form the backbone of the team that had won the Pontins League, and mature into first team prospects. Prior to the 1999/2000 season he had taken steps to strengthen his side even more by buying young English players. Having bought Darren Huckerby from Coventry Ciy for £4 million soon after taking over, he bought striker Michael Bridges from Sunderland for a new club record fee £5.6 million, England Under-Twenty-one Full-back, Danny Mills from Charlton Athletic for £4 million, Norwegian Under-Twenty-one Captain and midfielder Erik Bakke from Songdal for £1.75 million and Chelsea and England Under-Twenty-one stopper Michael Duberry for £4.5 million. He had also off-loaded Lee Sharpe, David Wetherall and Gunnar Halle to Bradford City for £250,000, £1.4 million and £200,000 respectively as well as Clyde Wijnhard to Huddersfield Town for £750,000. Then just as the new season was about to start by far the biggest shock came as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink departed for Athletico Madrid for £12 million, after the club refused to meet his wage demands and his threat of going on strike should his transfer demands not be met. Willem Korsten also departed for Tottenham Hotspur at the end of his loan spell, as it appeared George Graham had put one over David O’Leary and United, but, as luck would have it, his career was blighted by injury and he soon had to give the game away. The team started to blend with Bridges a success as leader of the attack and were always in the hunt for the League Championship, until they faltered on the run in as their fixture list and outside events caught up with them, but they still managed a third spot finish and ensured entry into the European Cup qualifiers. In the UEFA Cup they progrsessed to the Semi-Finals where the finally succumbed to Turkish club Galatasaray after shocking scenes and events in Istanbul, having beaten Partizan Belgrade, Lokomotiv Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Roma and Slavia Prague on the way. O'Leary felt he had to add some international class to his already powerful young squad if they were to maintain their assault on the EPL and give a good account of themselves and progress in the European Cup. He had strengthened his backroom team by bringing in Brian Kidd as Director of Technical and Youth Development and Roy Aitken as First Team Coach and aafter adding English International left-winger Jason Wilcox from Blackburn Rovers for £3 million in the previous mid-season now he now added Australian International Striker Mark Viduka from Celtic for £6 million and French International Olivier Dacourt for £7.2 million from Lens. Dominic Matteo was added to the squad soon after the start of the season as he joined from Liverpool for £4.2 million. O'Leary did, however, continue the purge of former George Graham purchases with Martin Hiden returning to Salzburg for £500,000, the popular Alf-Inge Haaland joining Manchester City for £2.8 million, and David Hopkin and Robert Molenaar later moving to neighbours Bradford City for £2.5 million and £400,000 respectively, to swell the ever growing former LUFC contingent at those clubs. So, over £6 million were recouped in transfer fees. After disposing of TSV Munich 1860 in the preliminary Round with a 2-1 Home win and a 1-0 away victory, United were confronted by a huge barrier to further progress in the competition in the shape of Barcelona, AC Milan and Turkish Champions Besiktas in Group H of the first phase. A comprehensive drubbing of an extremely understrength United by Barclona by 4-0 at the Nou Camp only highlighted the enormity of the task, but on an atrocious night in Leeds Bowyer watched ecstatically as Dida let his last minute shot slip into the net for the only goal of the game. The home leg against Besiktas saw Mark Viduka celebrate his first goal for the club, while Bowyer scored two more, as United annihalated the visitors 6-0 as united emerged as joint leaders with AC Milan. A 0-0 draw with Besiktas saw them drop to second behind AC Milan but left them well ahead of Barcelona. A last minute goal by Rivaldo saw Barcelona gain the equaliser to Lee Bowyer's fourth minute strike at Elland Road, leaving United with the task of obtaining a point at the San Siro to ensure progress. On the stroke of half-time Dom Matteo rose to head United into the lead and although AC Milan equalised after sixty-eight minutes United were through. phase Two saw United drawn in the Group D along with Real Madrid, Lazio and Anderlecht and once more another vastly understrength United were soundly beaten in the opening encounter, this time 2-0 by Real Madrid at Elland Road. O'Leary gambled by sending on the partially fit Harry Kewell to replace Jason Wilcox and it soon paid dividends as he found his Australian teammate Mark Viduka, whose exquisite backheel set up Alan Smith for the only goal of the game at Lazio. Another last few minutes strike from Lee Bowyer come from behind to beat Anderlecht 2-1 at Elland Road before breaking the Belgian clubs home invincibility, despite the absence of Lee Bowyer, by an emphatic 4-1 to place United firmly in second spot behind Real Madrid and vitually assured them of further progress with two games still left to play. United twice led in Madrid and had to contend with a "Hand of God" impersonation by Raul, before finally succumbing to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu by three goals to two. Both United and Lazio played understrength teams in a meaningless but entertaining 3-3 encounter at Elland Road as O'Leary saw his team progress to the Quarter-Finals. Deportivo La Coruna must have thought they were assured of passage to the Semi-Finals and O'Leary was able to motivate his charges by their taunts, and it was the Leeds fans who had the last laugh as they returned the taunts with the chant "Three-Nil to the weakest team" as United sank them without trace with a 3-0 victory and it mattered little that United lost 2-0 at the Riazor Stadium, as with the defeat of Manchester United by Bayern Munich and Arsenal by Valencia they became England and Britain's last representative in Europe. So O'Leary had led Leeds to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League, where Valencia drew 0-0 at Elland Road before beating them 3-0 at the Mestella Stadium, before the Spaniards narrowly failed to beat Bayern Munich in the Final, losing on a penalty shoot-out after extra-time. United's feat was all the more outstanding as O'Leary had to battle against United's huge injury toll and in many games he had to field bare-bones teams. Understandably their form in the EPL also dipped slightly for the same reason and David O'Leary's men had to settle for fourth position and an UEFA Cup place. Although no-one at the club realised it at the time, this was a serious failure for the club because Peter Ridsdale had borrowed £60 million against future gate receipts, budgeting for prolonged Champions League involvement. O'Leary had splashed a record £18 million for Rio Ferdinand to strengthen their bid for Europe and had also loaned Robbie Keane from Inter-Milan for their League challenge as he was cup-tied in Europe. In the close season his transfer was made permanent for £12 million and O'Leary and Ridsdale continued to buy and attract top players by paying huge salaries and in this manner Robbie Fowler arrived from Liverpool for £11 million in November 2001 and Seth Johnson joined from Derby County for £7 million soon after. 2001-02 began well for Leeds and they frequently topped the table during the first half of the season and were EPL leaders on January 1, 2002. However, a demoralising loss to Cardiff City in the FA Cup was followed by a loss of form in the second half of the season and this saw them slump into sixth spot on the ladder, thereby only winning the last automatic UEFA Cup place. The season was thrown into turmoil by the involvement of four players, including first-teamers Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer, in an incident in Leeds city centre that ended in the assault and injury of an Asian student. O'Leary to some extent alienated the fans, and more importantly Ridsdale, by writing a book, 'Leeds United On Trial', that some saw as cashing in on the troubles the club had suffered. By June 2002, David O'Leary had spent almost £100 million on new players in less than four years for no reward in terms of trophies, although O'Leary had never finished outside the top six as a Manager. In his book "Leeds United on Trial" O'Leary said "As manager I have to accept that my job is to ensure that Leeds make the Champions League year in, year out." It should, therefore, have come as no surprise when Ridsdale sacked O'Leary as Leeds Manager in the summer of 2002, replacing him with Terry Venables. O'Leary's departure signalled a downhill spiral for the club which would see three more Managers,Terry Venables, Peter Reid and Eddie Gray, all come and go before the club was finally relegated from the EPL in 2004 with £80 million debt. Remembered on one hand for giving youth a chance and bringing a dynamic style of play to Leeds on the one hand and his blindness to the teams weaknesses and his percieved excessive spending on the other, his final dismissal came as a surprise to the fans and was the first indication of the growing crisis at Leeds United. O'Leary, meanwhile, was linked with various other vacant manager's jobs throughout the 2002-03 season. He was hot favourite to become Manager of Sunderland when Peter Reid was sacked in October 2002 and again when Howard Wilkinson was sacked in March 2003. Nevertheless O'Leary remained out of work until June 2003 when he was appointed Manager of Aston Villa. By the beginning of November 2003, Aston Villa were hovering just above the relegation zone. O'Leary managed to push a limited squad to perform successfully and consistently, led by the revitalised Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel, and by the final weeks of the season they were in with a real chance of a European competition qualification place. In the end they had to settle for sixth place and in that particular season one place too low for European qualification due to Millwall's FA Cup final appearance and Middlesbrough's Worthington Cup triumph. It was still a remarkable achievement from O'Leary, who had to deal with a severely limited first team squad and a lack of transfer funds. Although some felt Villa had overachieved in reaching sixth place, it was still creditable, and the fans had some much needed optimism. The 2004/05 season was somewhat disappointing, as Villa finished tenth in the League, despite often giving performances suggesting that they could improve on the previous season's achievement. Despite this, O'Leary once again avoided any risk of relegation and signed AC Milan's International defender Martin Laursen, highly rated Chelsea prodigy Carlton Cole and acclaimed French midfielder Mathieu Berson, while still restricted by a tight budget imposed by chairman Doug Ellis. Although there were some criticisms of his relationship with fans and his motivational skills, O'Leary insured that there would be no scares like those suffered under Taylor's disastrous second era in charge. There was also much encouragement as a result of the return to form of the outcasted Lee Hendrie and the occasionally erratic Nolberto Solano, which seemed to dispel some doubt over his motivational skills. Despite six summer acquisitions, including Milan Baroš and Kevin Phillips, who added more quality to the squad, the 2005-06 season brought a disappointing turn for the worse for O'Leary. Injuries and suspensions decimated the squad, with only one fit centre back, Liam Ridgewell, available for selection at one point. Increasingly under-fire from fans and media alike, the season saw a highly embarrassing League Cup exit in a 0-3 defeat to League One side Doncaster Rovers. A series of poor results saw Villa hovering dangerously above the relegation zone going into December, with just seventeen points from seventeen games. However an improved winter period saw them move slightly up the League. In the end, Villa finished a disappointing sixteenth, just two places above the relegation zone. A storm broke surrounding David O'Leary and Aston Villa on 14th July 2006 when a press release from the Aston Villa players criticised Ellis and his ownership of Villa. The media furore finally came to a head when on 19th July 2006 and O'Leary's contract as Aston Villa Manager was terminated by mutual consent. O'Leary was linked with the Republic of Ireland National team after the departure of Steve Staunton and the West Ham position after the exit of Alan Curbishley, but O'Leary could not obtain any managerial appointments. He currently resides in the small village of Sicklinghall, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

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