Anyone that reads this site regularly will know how big a u-turn it is for us to be calling for Alan Smith’s return. For the entirety of The Scratching Shed’s three and a half year existence, calls for a Smith return have been abundant during every transfer window and there has never been one instance where a writer on here backed those calls.

I’m sure there are varying reasons for our collective stance, but for me, the reasoning has always been simple – I just don’t rate him as highly as those in the pro-Smith camp.

Bringing Alan Smith back to Elland Road would require a huge investment on Leeds United’s part, irrespective of whether it’s a permanent transfer or a loan deal. When you consider him to be quite an average, albeit hardworking and somewhat inspirational signing for the Whites then it follows that the funds could be better spent.

For me, signing Alan Smith when players like Keith Andrews were available for similar money was always a no-brainer. It’s Andrews every time.

Recent events have changed that however. Whilst I still believe players of a higher quality are available for a similar outlay, I don’t believe Leeds United can attract them any more.

When your homegrown, Leeds United-supporting club captain jumps ship and heads for Norwich City citing our rapidly decreasing odds of promotion as his reasoning, you better believe that’s had a huge impact on our potential recruitment drive.

Players on the outside looking in will now see Leeds United in an entirely different light. This is no longer a big club that’s fallen on hard times, this is a big club happy with Championship mediocrity. The necessary investment required not only in the transfer market, but by keeping the prize assets in place is sorely lacking.

The few quality players we have at present will more than likely follow in Jonny Howson’s footsteps and the club will continue to patch things up with loan signings and freebies. A club confident in their own promotion aspirations Leeds United certainly are not.

Where once Leeds United could phone the best Championship players knowing they’d be straight in the car to attend an interview, I doubt Simon Grayson even bothers any more. The response would be embarrassing for both parties.

The reality is, we’re no longer competing with the best sides in this division for players. We’re competing with Barnsley.

However, there is always one thing you can call on when everyone else is laughing at your misery – emotional attachment.

Has there ever been a better time for Alan Smith to make an heroic return? He’s not the best of the best, but he’s better than the pool of dross we’re currently left scrapping over. And it’s the perfect Hollywood ending to his long-drawn out love affair with Leeds United.

Picture the scene… Home town boy steps out for his beloved Leeds United and as Leeds United improve, he’s quickly squaring up against the world’s best. His ascent from the ranks of schoolboy to the heights of European football seemed almost instantaneous. A great future lies ahead for player and club alike.

Then the twist. Just when everything is going so well, a few bad games and Leeds’ financial gamble comes back to haunt them as they finish outside the Champions League places. Things spiral out of control, culminating in relegation and Alan Smith’s tears (movie poster).

The darkest hour should have been those tears, but this movie has the additional kick in the balls (depth) necessary for Oscar success. Alan Smith signs for Leeds’ bitter rivals Manchester United. The fall from grace is unprecedented.

Years later, Alan Smith is still haunted by his break-up with Leeds United. Still longing for his one true love. Left to helplessly watch on from afar as Leeds United flirt with Billy Paynter’s and Paul Rachubka’s, the heartbreak is just too much for him to take.

But then, the climatic ending every good film needs. Alan Smith sweeps in, ends the suffering and his inspired performances help Leeds United back to the promised land. Roll credits.

Ok, the last bit could use a little more detail but I don’t write the script. Only Alan Smith can do that, and so far, I’d definitely watch that movie.

Come home Smudger. It’s time.