This weekend we play a similarly famous old team with which we have plenty in common.
More than many other teams, Leeds United can teach us a lesson about the dangers of bad form and bad decisions.
The club has really suffered in the last few years but fans are enjoying a better season this time round and the players have shown a real desire for promotion.
So what links are there between the clubs? Is there anything to learn from them?
If you ignore a brief stint in the Middle East, Leeds United and Aston Villa are the only two teams managed by O’Leary. In the four years he spent at Elland Road, he got together a promising group of players who regularly did well in the league and got to a Champions League semi-final. However, the £100 million he spent at Leeds United was never converted into silverware and he was eventually relieved of his duties.Thus began their downward slide.
We then picked him up and, after an initially decent showing, our performances slowly slipped and, although it has gotten much worse since, at the time it was right for him to move on. One of the best things he did was sign Martin Laursen, a player most of us love and we will be forever grateful to O’Leary for bringing him to Villa Park.
A young star at Leeds, Martin O’Neil picked him up for what seemed like a bit of a risk. Injuries and junior status meant he didn’t get much football in the first few years but later flourished, becoming our best player and captain. He led us to a FA Cup final and was one of only a few players who succeeded in keeping us in the league.
Sadly, he tainted his reputation with the Manchester City transfer fiasco, declaring he would not leave and then leaving. He has not had much game time at City since the move.
Both clubs are currently owned by rich, foreign men. All signs seems to suggest that we have got the better deal with this one. Cellino has been through so many managers in his time there that the job seems to be a bit of a poisoned chalice. Although Monk does seem to be doing well currently, before the current good run of form all we were hearing about was a toxic atmosphere at the club. Sound familiar? I don’t think our level of toxicity quite reached that of Leeds United but a feel good factor is slowly starting to materialise again at Aston Villa Football Club. Dr Xia has really helped contribute to that.
The links between the two teams are not overwhelmingly positive by any means but the two teams’ current form seems to suggest that the times are changing.
I personally don’t begrudge Leeds United success. Of course, if it is a case of ‘us or them’ there is no decision to make.
This weekend we will have a taster of how the two clubs compare on the pitch in the modern age as we hope to see Steve Bruce’s unbeaten run extended.