Leeds United v Port Vale: Valiants boss Brown was a ‘big hit’ for Whites

NO NONSENSE: Michael Brown gets stuck in to Charlton Athletic's Dale Stephens back in November 2013. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
NO NONSENSE: Michael Brown gets stuck in to Charlton Athletic's Dale Stephens back in November 2013. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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THREE years at Elland Road incorporating 78 games and three goals.

Not forgetting a superb long-range effort and big hit to Martin Keown’s head.

Leeds United will take on a very familiar face on Wednesday evening when ex-Whites midfielder turned young manager Michael Brown brings his Port Vale outfit to Elland Road.

The Lion’s share of Brown’s appearances as a professional footballer came at Sheffield United between 2000 and 2004 after the midfielder departed first club Manchester City.

But after subsequent spells at Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth, Brown was recruited to Leeds in July 2011 and an eventful three years followed despite only initially signing a one-year contract with the option of a further year.

Simon Grayson was responsible for Brown’s capture on a free transfer from Portsmouth and the tough-tackling, no nonsense midfielder made 26 appearances in his first season at United, despite battling a calf injury.

Brown scored his first goal in the bizarre 7-3 loss at home to Nottingham Forest the following March but scored a bigger hit with United’s fans when taking out ESPN pundit Keown with a shot to the face during the warm up of United’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal in January.

Brown claimed he was instead aiming for Keown’s colleague Robbie Savage.

But Leeds’ season then fell short of its target and Grayson was sacked two months later and replaced by Neil Warnock who kept the faith with Brown.

Overall, the combative midfielder was booked seven times in his first season at Leeds and received his first Whites red card in the 2-0 loss at home to Derby in April - United’s penultimate game of the season in which Leeds finished 14th.

Thirty-three appearances followed in Brown’s second season at Leeds, including 11 yellow cards and a second Whites goal to earn United a 2-2 draw at Brighton in November, despite a deflection off Luciano Becchio.

But Leeds dwindled to another disappointing Championship finish of 13th - shortly before the Massimo Cellino era rolled into town.

Under the new regime, Brown’s third and final campaign at Leeds was his least successful after extending his contract into a further year.

Then aged 36 and turning 37, Brown scored his third and final goal under McDermott in his first appearance of the season which led to a 2-1 victory at home to Chesterfield in the first round of the Capital One Cup.

Liam Cooper was among the Spireites substitutes.

But Brown went on to make just 18 appearances in the league that season, picking up five yellow cards along the way.

Leeds finished 15th and Brown had the misfortune of donning the no 17 short - Cellino’s unlucky number.

Brown was released in May and the no 17 shirt retired but Brown quickly moved on and signed a one-year deal with then League One side Port Vale in July 2014.

Despite his advancing years, the midfielder made 39 appearances in his first season and 14 in his second season at Vale.

The midfielder was then appointed as Bruno Ribeiro’s assistant in June 2016 and made three appearances as player-assistant manager at the start of the following campaign, after battling back from a knee ligament injury.

His start in the 2-0 loss at home to Coventry City on October 1, 2016 was to be his last - aged 39.

Brown turned 40 the following January and by then he had been appointed temporary manager after Ribeiro resigned.

Brown failed to keep Vale in the division but the former Leeds man was facing an arduous task after the club’s miserable start to the season and the 40-year-old was made Vale’s permanent manager in the summer.

Another former Leeds player, Michael Tonge, was among Brown’s first signings for a club who also have Danny Pugh in their ranks, and now also new Leeds loanee Tyler Denton.

Familiar faces all around as several former components of the Leeds of old get set to take on Thomas Christiansen’s Leeds of new.

Brown threatened to deliver a knockout blow to Keown and will now aim to do dish out the same to his former employers.