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The one that got away: Gareth McAuley and Leeds United

This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.

Leeds United have been fighting hard to get back to the Premier League for over a decade-and-a-half now as the Whites continue to find it extremely difficult to get over the final hurdle.

Of course, since falling out of England’s top-tier, things have not been plain sailing for the club and they have had their tumultuous times in Yorkshire, as they saw their side plummet down to the depths of League One at one point.

Ken Bates, Massimo Cellino and now Andrea Radrizzani have all had the responsibility of chairing the club throughout the torrid times at Elland Road and have all tried their hardest (debatable) to get their football team back to a division where many within the country will, perhaps, feel they belong.

However, one of the aforementioned chairmen had the opportunity to put this mess all behind them and end the lack of Premier League football almost a decade ago.

Yes, Bates, you may have had the perfect opportunity to help get Leeds back into the top-tier of English football and, potentially, put an end to the torrid times being felt in this particular part of Yorkshire.

How could the former chairman have managed to avoid that? Well, he could have listened to Simon Grayson and signed Gareth McAuley from Ipswich Town, thats how.

According to the former manager, Bates had the opportunity to avoid making himself from becoming public enemy number one with those at LS11, although he did not quite share the same vision like everyone else (Planet Football).

“They only wanted three or four hundred grand for him. The board decided we didn’t need anybody and McAuley was too old,” he revealed.

Leeds were sitting second in the table on Christmas Day in the 2010/11 campaign, however injuries to their backline had been disastrous, meaning they would finish seventh and outside of the play-offs and Grayson admitted he felt another defender was what he needed to strengthen it.

He added: “I felt we were so close and another defender would have certainly made us stronger defensively,” Grayson says. “I didn’t want to get away from winning games and attacking, which had been my philosophy ever since I’d been at Leeds, but I knew we needed to be a little bit tighter with extra quality.”

Indeed, McAuley’s arrival could have been what the Whites needed so desperately at the time as well, as the Northern Ireland veteran proved to be a huge hit with West Bromwich Albion after completing his free transfer from the Tractor Boys.

The centre-back, who would also go onto represent Rangers and his country 80 times before announcing his retirement recently, managed to play in over 200 matches in the Premier League and helped the Baggies to a number of respectable finishes in his seven years at The Hawthorns (Transfermarkt).

Of course, Marcelo Bielsa may have the likes of Liam Cooper and Ben White trying to help him achieve what so many managers before him have failed to do and may go close, however if Bates had given Grayson (who believed they were close going off the quotes above) McAuley when the manager wanted him, there could have been every chance that Leeds would have been in the Premier League by now – even if it were to just break their 16-year wait.

Leeds fans, do you think McAuley would have helped the club to win promotion to the Premier League if he were signed in the 2010/11 campaign? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them below!

The one that got away: Gareth McAuley and Leeds United
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Article title: The one that got away: Gareth McAuley and Leeds United

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