Another week of the offseason in the books, another week with rumors of managers ranging from the ridiculous (Roberto Martinez) to the intriguing (Quique Flores?) to the insulting (wait, Karl Robinson said no? hahaha). Meanwhile, poor Steve Evans still thinks he has a job at Leeds United because, like all the managers before him, Cellino hasn't told him otherwise... yet.
Evans says again that he'll "be working tomorrow and until anyone tells me different." Flies home from holiday this evening. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) May 24, 2016
Just a shame. Matt Robinson made his case for Steve yesterday, and if you haven't read that yet, here ya go.
So in light of the carousel, we decided to focus our Weekly Wednesday roundtable on our favorite Leeds United managers of all time. I asked the staff to pick their personal favorite... seeing as Don Revie won our Coaches bracket in a landslide in March, I didn't want anyone to have to pick the obvious "best manager," just the one with a place in each writer's heart.
Back with you this week: Anthony Linley and Matt Robinson are from Yorkshire, Ben Mallis is from Perth, Australia, and Johnny Wakefield is from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States. All are "all Leeds," all have brought you coverage throughout the season, and all will try to answer the questions we present every Wednesday to the best of their ability. It's not a quiz show, but it should give you some insight into them as fans and writers alike.
And at the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer the question of the week.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable... begins now.
Who has been your favorite manager ever to coach at Leeds United?
Ben Mallis: David O’Leary. Let me first qualify myself by saying I’m a 20-something who marvels at what the likes of Don Revie and Howard Wilkinson achieved in the glory days of Leeds United. But over the course of my footballing lifetime, O’Leary is the choice: he was the manager that helped me fall in love with United.
For a fleeting moment at the dawn of this century we had it all: European football, ambition, swagger and the best young stars in England. It was built on the back of a high intensity, attacking game plan and O’Leary was the main man throughout.
A sentimental choice maybe, but the greatest moments of my United fandom came under O’Leary. I will never forget the excitement of waking up in the wee hours of the Australian morning to watch O’Leary lead us into Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid, same goes for when we faced Valencia a few weeks later.
Time hasn’t been kind to O’Leary but great things were achieved under his stewardship. Semi Finals of both European competitions, multiple top four finishes, including our best ever Premier League finish, plus he launched the careers of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, my two footballing heroes!
Anthony Linley: Howard Wilkinson oversaw the second best era of Leeds United's existence. Being too young to understand or equate the Revie era to anything else, I took those days for granted (until they ended in faded childhood memories). The difficulty of a resurrection from the old second division and emergence from the dark shadows that cast over our club in the 80s was much more a real feeling. It was an era that I attended the most games and felt part of something, something that hasn't been repeated since.
Wilkinson built a side that steamrolled the first division becoming its last champions. He managed a side that contained Speed, Batty, Strachan, Mcallister, Lukic, Sterland, Dorigo, Chapman, Wallace, Radabe, Chris Whyte, Chris Fairclough and Vinnie Jones. What would we give for players like that today?
Looking at his TV interviews now, he looks such a dismal character, but at the time I recall the feeling that he wasn't interested in self publicity or the falseness of the media.
What mattered to him, I felt, was Leeds United and only Leeds United.
Matt Robinson: Without doubt my favorite manager in Leeds United history is Dave Hockaday. What he did for our club is unparalleled in comparison to any other sporting achievement. He is a personnel messiah to me, and always will be. To be honest I followed Hockaday since he played for Swindon Town and I knew then that he would one day become a Leeds great. When a head coach has the class to individually bath the players in an Italian steam, you know you have a world beater on your hands. I have a water painting of him and Tom Lees together in that stream actually...
I think the Hockaday era will be defined by two key games for me. Firstly when we beat FC Gherdeina 16-0 on that pre-season tour. It was the manner in which he took personnel credit afterwards. Now that's something only a class act would do.
Secondly when we beat Middlesboro 1-0 later that August. Hockaday naturally instructed the team to play thoroughly average, thus lulling Boro into a false sense of security, until the very last second where he commanded Billy Sharp to score the winner. True genius in my eyes.
......Of course, I am talking total bollocks. My favorite Leeds manager is actually Simon Grayson. It wasn't until adversity that my love for Leeds grew even stronger and those few seasons in League One, as weird as this is to say, were some of the most fun I've ever had as a Leeds United fan.
Johnny Wakefield: So I'm old enough (32 next week) that I should have childhood memories of the Last Champions under Wilkinson, of Speed and Strachan and winning the first division in 1992. Instead, I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri in the middle of the United States, and I had never even heard of Leeds United until the 21st century, so I missed out on all that (but boy, do I have some Cardinals baseball stories for you... and I'll share more on how I fell for Leeds later this summer when we do our staff stories series).
Having missed out on that era entirely, I had to read a book about the Last Champions after I had already fallen in love with Leeds United, so I can't legitimately claim Wilkinson as my favorite, but boy do I want to. Love everything about that team.
So Wilkinson aside, my favorite manager of all time at Leeds United? Stephen J. Crying-Tears-At-Preston Evans.
Yeah, it hasn't been the best of times at Elland Road, and Steve isn't exactly the best at "tactics" or "player management" or "humility," but he captured my heart about the day he was signed on (19 October, just seven months ago). He's feisty, he's loud, but most of all, you can tell he genuinely cares. Especially by the end of the season, you could tell how much Leeds United meant to him, and with genuine passion desperately lacking in the "modern football" of 2016, that's something worth keeping around. I'd be willing to stick with him for at least another season (if not several), letting him establish his brand of football and bringing in his squad... swear words, just give the man a $%&^ing chance. That kind of passion is just not replaceable. Seriously. Now I'm upset.
Of course, I'm not an Italian billionaire, so my opinion doesn't matter much in this conversation, but I'll be genuinely sad to see him go... and at this rate, he might be gone by the end of Wednesday. Pour one out for Steve, I'll wish him the best wherever he ends up.
So our staff picked O'Leary, Wilkinson, Hockaday... Grayson, and Evans. Who was your favorite Leeds manager of all time? Vote in the poll, and then tell us more in the comments below. We'll be sure to share it on social media as well if you do. Thanks for reading, and come back next Wednesday for our next Summer Roundtable question.
Hope you're enjoying your summer more than Steve is. #MOT