It is always a thankless task selecting the “Greatest” anything, as people are influenced, sometimes by favouritism from a popularity point of view. Sometimes it’s simply by the fact that the players were from an era before a person started supporting the club and in many cases before they were even born. However, while selecting our greatest Leeds United midfielders ever, we took into consideration various factors, to make the list as accurate as possible.
Taking into account, fan surveys, online polls, expert opinions and the impact they had on the club, here are the 6 greatest Leeds United midfielders ever.
6. David Batty
Batty has a reputation as a tough-tackling, short-pass making hardman but his 42 England caps testify that there’s more to this former Leeds City Boys start than simply winning the ball and laying it off. Batty was a crucial part of the Howard Wilkinson/title-winning era.
A superb ball-winner and passer he gained 14 of his 42 full England caps with Leeds before a surprise £2.75m transfer to Blackburn Rovers in 1993. He was their Player of the Year and added a further Championship medal to the one already won at Leeds in 1992. Batty joined Newcastle United for £3.75m in 1996 where he narrowly missed out on third title. He returned home for £4.4m in 1998 for another 6 year stint at the club.
His one fault however was the lack of goals he scored. Over the course of his two spells at Leeds United, Batty made over 300 league appearances, finding the back of the net just four times. In his second spell with the club, his lack of goals led to chants of ‘shoot’ from the Elland Road faithful every time he picked up the ball, regardless of how far away from goal he may have been. But David Batty was also a master of pinpoint passing and was often the catalyst for many Leeds United goals.
5. Gary McAllister
Born Motherwell in 1964, Gary McAllister proved to be the most consistent Leeds player in his six seasons at Elland Road, and was as articulate off the field as on it. One of the greatest Leeds United midfielders ever, Scottish international ‘Macca’ sprayed the ball around like an Italian, was deadly at set pieces and packed a powerful shot — which brought him a higher than average number of goals from midfield.
After winning the Second Division championship, Howard Wilkinson sought to add skill to United’s muscular approach and beat off a challenge from Brian Clough to land the rising Leicester City star for £1m. McAllister dovetailed perfectly with Strachan, Batty and Speed to form an all-star international midfield, who were magnificent, as Leeds won the 1991-92 title.
Captain of Leeds and Scotland, he won most of his 50+ caps while at Leeds where he played 293 games, scoring 45 times. He left for Coventry for £3m in 1996 and also played for Liverpool before returning to Coventry as player/manager.
4. Gordon Strachan
After a successful career with Manchester United, Scottish international Gordon Strachan fell out with the manager, Alex Ferguson. Howard Wilkinson brought Gordon Strachan to Elland Road in 1989, where the £200,000 transfer fee was soon justified as the hard-working, red headed Scot helped Leeds United to promotion in his first full season with the club.
Gordon Strachan remained a big influence the following year as Leeds United finished fourth and the Scottish midfielder was voted The Football Writers Player of the Season 1991. He would go on to appear with Leeds 311 times from 1988 to 1996, scoring 57 goals.
But Leeds United fans fondest memories of Gordon Strachan will be his performances that helped Leeds beat former club Manchester United to be crowned First Division Champions in 1992. The hard-working Scot formed part of a formidable Leeds United midfield, largely recognised as the key to Howard Wilkinson’s success.