All summer long we’ve had rumours linking Alan Smith with a return to Leeds United. These rumours have invariably been followed by a divided fanbase arguing about the pros and cons of Alan Smith’s return, arguing about whether he’s even good enough to play for Leeds United these days, and of course, whether his move to Manchester United can ever be forgiven.

Whilst any hope of Smith returning to Elland Road as a Leeds United player seems to have been lost, the Rothwell-born striker-turned-midfielder is likely to appear for Newcastle United tomorrow where he can expect to receive a mixed reaction from Whites fans.

A recent poll here on The Scratching Shed revealed 25% of Leeds United fans planned to greet Smith with hostility, whilst 37% said they’d be supportive of the former Leeds United striker and the rest described themselves as indifferent.

The mixed results are consistent with the divided fanbase we’ve seen all summer long. No two supporters seem to share exactly the same opinion on Alan Smith, and that’s a divide we’ve also seen from the independent Leeds United sites and blogs.

My own personal opinion is that Smith simply isn’t the player he once was. I always felt he was massively over-hyped by Leeds United fans because he was born locally, and in recent years, he’s only gone downhill. Add to that the ridiculous wages he’s on and I think we’d be insane to offer him a contract.

That said, I won’t be aiming any hostility towards Smith tomorrow because I honestly couldn’t care less that he left for Manchester United – I sincerely believe that when he left, he felt it was the best move he could make for a club who were having serious cash flow problems and had to clear the big wages from the books.

I wouldn’t agree that he “saved” Leeds United – two relegations and continued financial troubles thereafter undermine that argument – but at the time, I genuinely believe he thought it would secure the long-term future of our club.

All you have to do to find a totally different opinion however is click over to Clarke One Nil where Adam Willerton remains bitter about Smith’s departure. His view is that, regardless of circumstance, you simply can’t go to Manchester United and then return to Leeds and expect forgiveness.

His views outraged the founder and former editor of the site so much, that he emailed The Scratching Shed with this reply;

“When Clarkeonenil was born it had a DNA, that included standing up to the childish, puerile nonsense so loved of the immature Leeds support. The biggest manifestation of that creed was the anti Smith stuff, all done despite the facts and reality. Today that creation of mine that I handed over in May published an article which not only undermines two years of principled consistency but has polluted for ever that DNA. I will not be reading it again and I suggest anyone else with a modicum of principle doesn’t read it either.”

What Michael shows here is just another example of how Alan Smith divides our fanbase like few people can. It also adds further to my argument for not wanting him back – any player who is capable of polarising opinion quite this much simply can’t be good for the well-being of our club.

Whatever your reaction to Alan Smith is tomorrow when he returns to Elland Road, the chances are that the person sitting next to you will have an entirely different opinion. If nothing else, his return promises to be an interesting one.