Go on, Gary Speed

Grace under pressure

Written by: Rob Conlon
Artwork by: Eamonn Dalton
Gary Speed looking resplendent in the 1990 home shirt, next to Gordon Strachan looking like Gordon Strachan

Howard Wilkinson was keen to remind his players that a promotion battle is as much a test of nerve as a test of skill ahead of what he described as “the biggest test of character we have had all season”. Leeds had just lost 3-1 at Oldham and were four games without a win. 3rd placed Newcastle were only three points behind, while Sheffield United were about to visit Elland Road on Easter Monday, below Leeds only on goal difference.

The game had been earmarked as a potential title decider since September, but Wilkinson sounded relaxed about the challenge. Sheffield United were managed by his good friend and neighbour Dave Bassett. “I hope that we win,” Wilkinson told Look North reporter Harry Gration, “because then it will be his turn to buy me a meal.” Asked how they got on together, he replied: “Oh, he’s alright. You can’t talk a lot of football to him, can you? He doesn’t know a lot about it. Just kick that ball up in the air, and bite and scratch. But other than that, we have a very, very pleasant evening now and again. Sometimes take our wives along too.”

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