Leeds United and Manchester City back side by side after rollercoaster rides through the decades

TIMES were rather different for Leeds United and especially Manchester City in the 1980s.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 11:56 am

Long before the days of your Pep Guardiolas and Sergio Agueros, the Blue half of Manchester spent most of the decade yoyo-ing between the country’s top two divisions.

With a young Marcelo Bielsa making his name in Argentina at Newell’s Old Boys, Leeds spent almost the entire decade in English football’s second tier.

By the 1990s, Leeds and City were finally back in the big time, City promoted as Division Two runners-up in 1989 and Leeds crowned champions of the second tier the following year.

COLLECTOR'S ITEM: Leeds United midfielder David Batty slides home his first goal in four years to put the Whites 2-0 up at home to Manchester City back in September 1991, the year Leeds won the league. Picture by Varleys.

It meant that for the first time in nearly a decade the top-flight clashes between the two clubs were back on the agenda in the 1990-91 campaign.

Leeds had the better of things in a 3-2 success at Maine Road in November 1990 before City gained revenge with a 2-1 triumph at Elland Road five months later.

Yet the 1991-92 season was in every way Leeds United’s year with the Whites thumping City 3-0 at Elland Road the following term in September 1991 for one of their most memorable wins against the Manchester side in their history as part of the club’s title-winning campaign.

Nearly three decades on, Leeds and Manchester City will renew top-flight rivalries at Elland Road this evening for what will be a first league clash between the two sides for 16 years.

United actually bagged what was to prove their penultimate Premier League win at Elland Road for a decade and a half against City back in March 2004 when a Stephen McPhail strike and Mark Viduka penalty defeated Kevin Keegan’s visitors for whom a Nicolas Anelka strike counted for nothing.

Leeds were relegated two months later whereas City were on the road to back establishing themselves as a top flight side and, longer term, becoming the country’s dominant force having been down in the third tier at the end of the 1990s.

That fate would ultimately await Leeds in 2007.

Yet Howard Wilkinson’s Whites were very much the top dogs at the turn of the 90s with goals from Tony Dorigo and David Batty plus a Gordon Strachan penalty sealing a one-sided contest that ultimately helped the club become champions of England for the third time.

There appeared little danger in the 18th minute as a Strachan corner was inadvertently cleared towards the edge of the box by a Rod Wallace header but Dorigo unleashed a majestic half-volley that flew into the top right corner to give United the lead.

The advantage was then doubled 16 minutes later when, after strong running from Lee Chapman down the right flank, Leeds worked the ball into the area for David Batty to slide home his first goal for four years.

City were then given the chance to get themselves back to within a goal of the hosts when Chris Whyte took down Niall Quinn challenging for a long ball to leave the visitors with a penalty.

But amidst a deafening chorus of boos and jeers, player manager Peter Reid’s effort cannoned back off the left hand post with no other player touching the ball before Reid fired home the rebound which was subsequently chalked off.

This, after all, was United’s day. It was United’s year and Wilkinson’s Whites were then awarded a penalty of their own with 11 minutes left when Batty played in Steve Hodge who was then bundled over by Steve Redmond.

Up stepped Strachan to confidently convert to seal a comprehensive victory en route to ultimately being crowned champions nine months later as part of a season when City finished fifth under Reid.

Twelve years later, Reid found himself in charge of a Leeds team heading for relegation from the country’s top flight.

But 16 years of hurt have finally ended bringing City against Leeds at Elland Road back to the country’s top division tonight.

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Thank you Laura Collins