WITH just 12 days remaining until the start of the new Championship campaign, Massimo Cellino and Garry Monk would still love to unearth another hidden transfer gem.
But the president and head coach would have to go some to eclipse this week’s 2008 signing – with yesterday marking the eight-year anniversary since United signed Robert Snodgrass from Livingston.
Leeds were entrenched in League One at the time and still nursing the pain of May’s 1-0 loss to Doncaster Rovers in the play-off final at Wembley.
Despite the presence of Jermaine Beckford, Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson, United lacked a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ which enabled Rovers to keep a crucial clean sheet.
Chairman Ken Bates retained his faith in Gary McAllister, and McAllister put his in a 20-year-old Snodgrass who was landed for an undisclosed fee which in real terms was compensation of just £35,000.
The winger was one of eight summer arrivals before United’s 2008-09 campaign, with Luciano Becchio another notable new face at Elland Road and signed from Spanish club Mérida UDS for just £300,000.
Yet Snodgrass cost just a 10th of that price and four years later the Scot was on his way to Norwich for a fee believed to be around £3m. Two years later he joined current club Hull for double that but, for Leeds, the winger was priceless.
Glasgow-born Snodgrass had reportedly turned down a trial at Barcelona before turning pro and was also offered a move to Blackburn Rovers before turning pro at Livingston.
But with recently relegated ‘Livi’ only finishing seventh in Scottish Division One in 2007-08, Snodgrass turned down the club’s offer of a new deal and sought a future elsewhere.
Barnsley took the wide man on trial but the Scot failed to impress at Oakwell and instead it was Leeds who came in for his services. Eight years on, his signature for £35,000 looks the deal of the century.
The former Scottish under-21 and under-20 international had scored 10 goals for Livingston during their mediocre 2007-08 season and the Scot immediately had his eyes on reaching a higher level of football at League One Leeds.
“Over the years a lot of Scots have done well here and I want to try and get to the next level now,” said Snodgrass following his arrival.
His debut came in the 2-1 win at Scunthorpe United in United’s season opener on August 9, and the winger’s first Whites goal came in the very next game as Chester were slayed 5-2 in the Carling Cup.
But as Leeds and McAllister then stuttered to first a 2-0 loss at home to Oldham and then disappointing draws with Yeovil Town and Bristol Rovers, Snodgrass found himself rather in and out of the side.
His second United goal also came in the Carling Cup as Hartlepool were narrowly brushed side at Elland Road in September.
His first league goal then came in December’s 2-1 loss at home to Colchester, with another Snodgrass strike arriving in the next league game which resulted in a 3-1 loss at MK Dons. McAllister was then sacked the very next game. For Snodgrass?
A further 165 appearances in a Whites shirt en route to a Leeds total of 191 and 38 more goals taking his tally to 41. Simon Grayson was glad Mac brought him in.