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Published: 22 July 2002

by StatMan Paul Hinson

Rio Ferdinands 30 million move to Manchester United not only antagonises the faithful of Leeds United once more, it reminds us how history repeats itself.


The rivalry between Manchester United, on one side of the Pennines, and Leeds United on the other, has always stirred the emotions. Both clubs have won Championships, Cups, and reached European Finals. Both have been disliked by neutrals around the country for different reasons. The Reds have long been envied by opposing fans for their success, quality of players, financial clout, media exposure. Leeds, ironically, were despised in the 60s for the way they won, the gamesmanship, ruthless approach, or 'Professionalism' as manager Don Revie preferred to call it.

But the Yorkshire outfit have just one major trophy to show for their efforts since 1974, a period that included a spell out of the top flight. That was the League title in 1992, pipping Alex Fergusons side to the finishing post, causing much pain to the Reds.

However, the imbalance between the clubs is still there, Manchester United dominating the domestic scene whilst the White shirts continue to trail behind.

Leeds United came into being in 1919, following the winding up of Leeds City for financial irregularities. By that time the Reds had been in existence for 41 years, with a Championship and FA Cup already harvested before World War One.


The first direct transfer between the clubs was a surprising 41 years down the line after Leeds were reborn as a club. In March 1960, Freddie Goodwin, one of the Reserves who stepped up following the Munich Disaster, had lost his half-back place and chose to move to Elland Road for a fee of 10,000. Goodwin was in the squad that won the Second Division Championship with Leeds in 1963-64 but suffered a broken leg during the campaign that finished his career.

Verdict: A good servant for the Yorkshire club, but his service terminated prematurely. 6/10

The next transfer was more significant. Johnny Giles was a much-admired winger, who played for United in the successful FA Cup Final against Leicester City in 1963. But within weeks, reported differences with Matt Busby led to a 37,500 move to Leeds, and a switch to midfield which yielded medals galore, as the Yorkshire club under Don Revie entered their decade of glory. Giles was to prove one of the few players that thrived after leaving Old Trafford.

Verdict: A major coup for Revie, a cornerstone of the decade of success at Elland Road. 8/10

15 years was to elapse before the next deals were struck, and the resulting antagonism was to simmer for some time. United were rebuilding under new man Dave Sexton in 1977-78 and targetted Scottish Internationals Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen. Negotiations dragged on, but eventually the aggressive centre-forward Jordan arrived at Old Trafford in January 1978 for a club record fee of 350,000. He had already scored goals in the World Cup Finals of 1974 and 1978, and in a United side that lost its all-out attacking emphasis shaped by Tommy Docherty, improved his all-round game and contributed his fair share of goals in a stay of 3 seasons before being lured by the lira of AC Milan.

Verdict: Good leader of the attack, not prolific, but in a negative Sexton system he left a better player than the one that arrived. 8/10

Having parted with Jordan, the Leeds board struck a harder bargain for the blonde-haired centre-half. In February, the fee was finally agreed, another club record of 495,000. Leeds insisted on a clause that prevented McQueen from playing against his former club when the sides met a month later at Old Trafford! The big stopper served United for 7 years, scoring in the 1979 FA Cup Final against Arsenal but finishing on the losing side. He claimed a winners medal in 1983 against Brighton and also a losers medal that season in the League Cup.

Verdict: Never a solid stopper, prone to weakness against pace, but formidable aeriel power at both ends of the pitch. 7/10

After a sizeable expenditure, Sexton needed to balance the books, and centre-back Brian Greenhoff, who had won Division 2 Championship and FA Cup Winners medals, was transferred to Elland Road for 350,000 in August 1979. Greenhoff, who won 18 caps for England, suffered through injuries in his time at Leeds before moving to Rochdale in 1983.

Verdict: Must go down as disappointing for Leeds, an England International who made few appearances. 6/10

The next deal was altogether more modest. By 1983 the Yorkshire club were foundering in Division 2, and United boss Ron Atkinson required a replacement for England winger Steve Coppell, who had been forced into early retirement by a bad knee injury. Scottish International Arthur Graham was by then 30 years old, but proved a good stopgap on Uniteds left flank for a season, the fee being a mere 45,000.

Verdict: As a short-term buy, he gave value for money. 7/10

Two years later, in June 1985, United fans were to feel a sense of deja vu. Another veteran winger, Peter Barnes, switched to Old Trafford for 50,000 and again lasted for a season, before falling foul of the next manager, a certain Alex Ferguson.

Verdict: Never really applied effort to match his undoubted skills, not a Ferguson-type player. 6/10

It was time for Leeds to have their turn. In March 1989, midfielder Gordon Strachan was deemed surplus to requirements by Fergie, and moved across the Pennines for 300,000, after winning an FA Cup Winners medal in 1985. Little did anyone realise the major role Strachan would have in leading the Yorkshire club to the League title in 1992, leaving his former club trailing in runners-up spot.

Verdict: Wilkinson built a title-winning team around him, and Strachan proved a shrewd buy. 8/10

If the Strachan and Giles deals turned to silver, the next one definitely turned to gold. Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson recruited Eric Cantona for the closing stages of the 1991-92 season, and the Frenchman assisted them to their last major honour. But within weeks of the following season, Cantona was in exile, dropped and unwanted. Ferguson seized the moment, invested 1 million in November 1992 and was rewarded with Premierships and cups galore. It was surely the best 1 million ever spent by a United manager. The irony was not lost on the Elland Road faithful...

Verdict: A deal that cannot be measured in money terms. Player that made a good side a great one. 9/10

Wilkinson engineered the next deal, which was to prove as unfortunate as the previous one. He signed former England winger Lee Sharpe for 4.5 million in August 1996, but had lost his job within weeks. Sharpe, a shadow of the player who had shared in the glories at Old Trafford between 1990 and 1996, did not shine for Leeds.

Verdict: The worst of all the transfers between the clubs. His potential gone, one of the terminal errors that cost Wilkinson his job. 4/10


Great Buys by United: Cantona,
Good Buys by United: Jordan, McQueen
Average Buys by United: Graham, Barnes

Great Buys by Leeds: Giles, Strachan
Good Buys by Leeds: Goodwin,
Average Buys by Leeds: Greenhoff, Sharpe

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