The Mangle: Giving up fossil hunting Gary May 2, 2012 Leeds United We’re not Liverpool. This may sound obvious, but it’s possible we need reminding sometimes. When it comes to the ability to live in the past, we do share traits. But come on, despite our respective current predicaments, we won the top division more recently, and we haven’t resorted to getting Wilko back. Yet. Their tendency to hark back to the majesty of their club’s prized dinosaur bones is beyond parody, and we shouldn’t be aiming to compete. So all this Alan Smith/ Lee Bowyer/ AN Other former star chat that sparks up around this time every year has got to stop. Personally, I’d have El-Hadji Diouf over any ‘returning son.’ Frankly, it’s got less chance of ending in tears – and that, friends, is saying something. Point to the recent success of Ian Harte if you wish, but you’re royally kidding yourself if you think that his performances after a return to Elland Road would have been anything like those when playing for a bunch of Waitrose-sponsored family-friendly dispassionates. Here he’d have been the New Stephen Crainey™ with added painful personal connection. We even saw with Delph this season that digging up recent history isn’t advisable either. Not quite fit, probably mentally damaged by the debasing negativity of McLeish, he was a shadow of what we’d seen previously, and then his legs crumbled to dust as if he’s in training to be an Alan Smith impersonator. There comes a time when you have to accept that you’re not going to dig up a Pterosaur or the remains of a little-known early human civilisation and make a name for yourself – it’s just going to be those glorified snails they sell in Whitby gift shops again and again. Solid links with the likes of Pearce and Keogh (not Andy) are encouraging – players on the up who may, just may, want to play for Leeds to stretch themselves rather than some perverted sentiment or sense of duty. Given our current transfer allowance, it would be worth noting that these types of guys also tend to command lower wages while being better at football than the dinosaur on the down. It’s undeniably hard for our egos to take, but there comes a point where you have to get off your big club high horse and accept the Norwich City model for promotion and consolidation was and is the right one. More generally, it’s the fixation on ‘Premier League Quality’ at this level that will most likely find you with a decrepit crumbled excrement of a former big beast on your books. In the Championship, we’re not alone in falling into this trap – Ipswich for one are another massive sucker, viz. Kieron Dyer’s inglorious return to Portman Road. Now is the time for the young and hungry of the present, found in less glamorous spots but vigorously looking for improvement. The majority around us are quickly learning this, and we can’t risk finding ourselves behind the Watfords of the world. But of course some fossils are much deeper ingrained in the mud of our collective psyche and thus harder to abandon than MK Dons loanees – the likes of Messrs Gray and Lorimer. Whatever the sentiment, though, engineering the captivity of dinosaurs for personal reasons is unethical, and they’ve surely been tarnished enough via the temptation of a regular pay check now. Watching Youtube clips of the club’s finest hours on repeat is acceptably retro – keeping the stars of those clips around as a party line Punch and Judy is not. They should be given a healthy pay-off and set free, fresh with anecdotes about the Leeds doom years that will no doubt broaden their appeal to the haters as well as the lovers of the club, ensuring status as after-dinner circuit goldmines. There’s a world beyond Ken’s wallet. It’s time to throw away the geological hammer and chisel, field lenses and ambitions of reviving the archaeological dig format on terrestrial television – it’s time to live in the now, Leeds.