Ambitious Iron Eye Leeds Arsenal & Villa Credentials

Filed under Championship, League Two, Premier League

Scunthorpe UTD look to have  David O’Leary of Arsenal, Aston Villa and Leeds United fame, masterminding the ambitious plans of Chairman Peter Swann. With the bookies making him 6-4 favourite, Iron fans, thus far underwhelmed by the new Chair, should buckle up because O’Leary, backed by Mr Swann’s millions, is the man that can. This in a County that is just crying out for a competitive football team.

Arsenal FC.svg emblem A badge with a claret border, light blue background and yellow lion rampant facing to the left with a small star slightly above an outstretched leg. AVFC is atop the lion in claret writing with "Prepared" written underneath.Scunthorpe United FC logo.svg

David O’Leary, was a model pro during his incredible 722 first-team appearances for the Gunners, indeed 30,000 of us saw his testimonial against Celtic before he wound down his playing career at Leeds Utd.  George Graham made him his number two at Leeds as the duo showed they had clearly traded red for pure white, but to his credit, O’Leary stayed when Graham sold his soul to Spurs.  When the deal with Martin O’Neill fell through David O’Leary got the nod and guided The Whites to fourth in the Premiership and a UEFA Cup spot in 98/99. He then crafted a creative Leeds side to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup as well as third in the Premiership , facilitating a Champions League semi against eventual winners Valencia.

Although he never won a trophy at Elland Road O’Leary enjoyed a 49.75% win rate at Leeds before financial turmoil, failure to qualify for the Champions League and perhaps his book Leeds United On Trial ended his stint.  He returned to management with Aston Villa taking them from the relegation places to 6th in the table, but, after a mid-table finish and a 16th placed final curtain deadly Doug did for him.  After 4 years out of the hot-seat  he returned to manage crack UAE club Al-Ahli Dubai for a season, winning £3.4 million pounds at a tribunal for just fifteen matches of which just six were wins.

So what will he bring Scunthorpe? In his 341 games in management David O’Leary has won 151 and lost 106, giving him a credible 44.3% success rate. He also has a wealth of contacts and a relaxed down to earth man management style and that penchant for attractive football. Yes, like most managers he needs money – £100 million at Leeds – but he has the backing of Peter Swann who is married to the Wilko family, the biggest independent retailer and family owned company in the UK.  Both are ambitious and driven despite their security, with a populist down to earth appeal and since his days at Gainsborough Swann is driven to put Lincolnshire on the football map.

Peter Swann was loved at Gainsborough, ploughing in a million for the 400 faithful, but ambition drove him to bypass Lincoln City for Scunthorpe in the summer. With the Iron, also not the biggest supported just yet, faltering after losing to non-league rivals Grimsby in the FA Cup this week the Chairman has begun to show his metal. Just 3600 home fans turned up for that, as 2080 fishy foe danced on their graves. The response was swift, manager Brian Laws was sacked after a Grimsby home defeat saw the run stretch to five without a win, leaving the Iron 16th, two places off the play-offs. Swann has also reunited Boyce with his old Gainsborough partner Waterfall this week, these two centre-halves were awesome at Trinity even though they were barely shaving. As a revered centre-back David O’Leary can coach those two to greatness.

Scunthorpe are a good fit, the right club at the right time, ripe for a detail man like O’Leary. David can use his charisma to attract stars as well as pulling in favours from the youth teams of Leeds, Arsenal and Villa with ambitious chairman Peter Swann able to fund consecutive promotions. Scunthorpe have done that before but struggled on their gates to stay in the Championship, but this time the pockets of the chairman are deeper and the make-up of Lincolnshire football could see more fans chose to follow an ambitious local team.

Nigel Adkins also used the Iron as a springboard to greatness, moving on to Southampton and Reading, so O’Leary might sense that he could return Scunthorpe to the Championship over the next couple of seasons, to restore his own reputation. There is a huge picture of O’Leary at the Emirates, a place where he is always welcome and, although Arsene Wenger will not go on forever, former favourite O’Leary will need to prove himself before he entertains any hope of a paid return.

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About Gentleman

A Gentleman by name and nature and an Arsenal season ticket holder (soft spot for the Owls & East Midlands football) for 14 years prior to the move to the Emirates. Have never seen the Gunners win in Sheffield!. A published award winning author and keen blogger with solid contacts within the game, particularly at Football League and non-league level. If you tweet I am apparently @NJGHobbs

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