Sheffield United: ‘Some of the managers were useless...the owner was too’ – Billy Sharp looks back on his time at Leeds

Billy Sharp has looked back on his time at Leeds: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Billy Sharp has looked back on his time at Leeds: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

They will enter today's game second in the Championship and, if Pontus Jansson is correct, potentially one win away from securing Premier League football.

But Billy Sharp, who will captain Sheffield United against his former club Leeds tomorrow, has revealed the mood at Elland Road was markedly different five years ago.

Sharp spent a frustrating 11 months in West Yorkshire after leaving Southampton in the summer of 2014, making only 18 starts and playing under three different managers as then owner Massimo Cellino ran riot. However, reflecting upon his spell there earlier this week, Sharp explained the Italian's eccentricities were the least of his troubles.

"Strange is probably the best word to describe my time at Leeds," he said. "I went there expecting it to be one of the best clubs I had been at.

"But, on my first day, I had to take my own lunch. I had a greasy chip butty of course.  And then there was talk of us having to take our own kit home.

"I was there thinking, ‘Wow, this is incredible for a club this size’. The facilities were all there, they just were not in working order. 

"There wasn't many staff there. The owner was useless. I had three managers, some of them were useless too."

United have also been on a remarkable journey in the years since and, after winning the League One title during Chris Wilder's first campaign in charge, travel to Leeds only a place and two points behind Marcelo Bielsa's squad in the Championship table.

Sharp, a lifelong United supporter, embarked upon his third spell at Bramall Lane in 2015 when Nigel Adkins, Wilder's immediate predecessor, signed him for a reported £1m following a protracted series of negotiations.

Although it did not get off to the most auspicous of starts, Adkins being sacked after one unmemorable season, the centre-forward, whose 23 goals have propelled United to third, said: "It's been a brilliant move. This was a no-brainer to come back and I was confident I would do well.

"The first season back was not what I was looking for. Especially that first game (under Adkins) when we lost 4-0 at Gillingham. I was thinking that day, ‘Oh dear, what have I done?’

"I enjoyed my time at Leeds. There were some good lads and we had a half decent team but the turnover was just too much. It just was not settled and I felt for the fans. They were the ones who paid their money.

"Having said all that, I would have stayed if it had not been Sheffield United who came in for me. I would tried to have got in the team in that second year."

Jansson, the Leeds defender, has intimated that a win for his team would effectively kill-off United's top two chances.

Sharp, like Wilder, takes a different view and insists this weekend’s result will not decide the outcome of the race for automatic promotion.

"Even in League One, I did think this could happen," Sharp said.  "I had a lot of football left in me and there was no reason why we could not get back to the Premier League in that spell. We have a chance of doing that.

"It seems so close but it is isn’t. There are nine games to go and a lot of points to play for. If we can do it, it would be fantastic."