MUTV Group Chat's memories of Leeds

Sunday sees the resumption of an age-old rivalry, with the first Leeds United v Manchester United top-flight match at Elland Road in 18 years.

With the Whites back in the Premier League after so long, younger supporters – and maybe even those who can remember our visits to the Yorkshire ground – may need a reminder of just how hostile a fixture it can be.

And who better to ask than four former Reds, with first-hand experience of the game?

David May, Ben Thornley, Wes Brown and Danny Webber spoke earlier this week on what we can expect this Sunday...

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David May played against Leeds on seven occasions…

“It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that now. I remember in 1998, just after David Beckham got sent off in the World Cup. We had to go in a totally different entrance because we were getting spat at, things were being thrown at us. I don’t think that love is lost. Alright, there’s going to be no fans this year but next year Leeds are still going to be in the Premier League, which is fantastic. I watched them [on Monday against Liverpool, in the 1-1 draw] and they never gave up. That’s the good thing about Leeds. Bielsa’s got them playing really, really well and it’s going to be a tough game for us. As the lads have touched on, City are where they are. There are six games to go and we’ve just got to keep going. Keep the momentum going and keep playing well and the silverware is there for us.”

Ben Thornley featured in one of the most infamous Leeds v United clashes…

“I was at Elland Road, on the field actually, when Roy Keane did his cruciate in that tangle with Alf Inge Haaland [in 1997]. Prior to that we played in the 1993 FA Youth Cup final with 30,000 Leeds fans in there and that wasn’t nice. That was coming off the back of a semi-final, winning at Millwall! I think we’d seen the best and worst of fans even at that early age. I think Leeds this season have been a breath of fresh air, they’ve been brilliant. They are going to lose games because of how open and expansive they play their football. But no-one can argue, their fitness levels to get back into the game against Liverpool, when in the first half they looked really off it… I just think they’ve been superb. They’re a joy to watch with some really, really good players. I think the game when we played them at Old Trafford [and won 6-2] was a bit of a freak. I can’t see that happening again, but with the form United are in we need to take the game to them as early as possible.”

Wes Brown made his United debut against the Yorkshire club, in 1998…

“It was always a tough one, for me. I was young obviously when we were playing Leeds and the crowd was hostile. You would get stuff thrown at the windows. It was my first experience really of a hostile crowd and then you start to learn the history and why the clubs hate each other. It’s a great game to be involved in. It’s always tough playing there and we’ve always had hard games. I think the way Leeds play at the moment, they’re capable of anything. They’re high-energy, very fit lads. Obviously the manager has got them working, running and on their day they can beat anyone. We’ve got to be ready for it. If we can get past that high press I think we’ll have a lot of joy. We’re playing well at the moment and I don’t see why we shouldn’t come out winners, but we’ll have to work hard. We’ll have to compete with them because they will definitely do that.”

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Danny Webber appeared for Leeds and United, so has seen both sides of the rivalry…

“Marcelo Bielsa’s style is relentless and you’ve got to say it’s refreshing. So many teams come up and are really, really cautious, but they’ve just gone ‘no, this is what we do – we’re going to outrun you and outwork you. If you’re going to take anything from us, you’ve got to be on it.’ And we were on it that day, with early goals from Scott McTominay. That got us up and running and we finished our chances. That’s what you’ve got to do because they’re always going to create chances. You’ve got to get yourself a couple of goals ahead if you want to win the game and dominate. It’s refreshing to watch. They’ve been a great addition to the Premier League and hopefully, when the fans can come back in, the rivalry can continue.”

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