Sunday, July 7, 2002
O'Leary dreams of Leeds return
David O'Leary admits he harbours a dream to return to Leeds as manager one day.
O'Leary: Would return
The Irishman, sacked by the club almost two weeks ago, also believes Celtic boss Martin O'Neill is the best man for the vacant hotseat at Elland Road, but will come under severe pressure if he fails to deliver any silverware.
O'Leary wrote in his Sunday People column: 'I have some unfinished business at Leeds, and my dream is that I can go back to Elland Road as manager one day.
'If that sounds crazy, then people don't understand just how much Leeds meant - and still means - to me.
'I haven't said goodbye to the Leeds fans because I hope, under different circumstances, I'll come back.
'My time there was fantastic, an incredible adventure, a real rollercoaster ride.
'I have been hurt by my sacking, of course I have. I'm a manager, someone with deep-rooted football instincts who loves the game and I've been professionally wounded.
'My pride has taken a knock. Getting the sack from the job you love is never easy, especially if you have never been given the bullet before.
'And I've been stung too, by the suggestions that dressing room unrest wasbehind my sacking.
'I had a good relationship with the players, but any manager will tell youwhen you are trying to improve a squad you'll always fall out with people who aren't in the team. Some can be sour but others are fine.'
O'Leary is convinced the club could have won a trophy last season had it not been for the court case hanging over two of his players, Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate.
He added: 'My only regret is that circumstances on and off the pitch conspired against us and prevented us winning the Premiership in the past two seasons.
'We could have done and given the wonderful Leeds fans the trophy they crave and deserve.'
O'Leary is in no doubt that O'Neill has the best CV of the managers linked with the United job, but warned him the expectation levels will be sky-high.
'If Martin O'Neill is the new man - and I told him if he ever gets the chance to manage Leeds he has to take it - he'll really have to deliver.
'Clearly, he'll have to do better than me. I thought I did more than okay under the circumstances of horrendous off-field problems at the club, but if my record is going to get the sack then the next guy in had better have some record!'
O'Leary also restated his desire to one day manage the Republic of Ireland, though not as his next move.
'Long-term, I'd like to manage my country. International management appeals to me, but probably later in my career,' O'Leary said.
He revealed he had received a message of support from striker Robbie Fowler from his holiday base in America.
'He kindly told me he had come to the club because of me and my ambition and he said it was the right thing to do to speak out about wanting to keep Rio Ferdinand.
'He said both he and Rio came because of what we were building at Leeds and he felt it wouldn't send out good signals if we sold our best players.'