Howson Daring to Dream Again after Dark Ages at Leeds

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 3, 2010 | Go to article overview

Howson Daring to Dream Again after Dark Ages at Leeds


Byline: Joe Bernstein

THE phrase 'living the dream' has unfortunate connotations for Leeds United fans, but there is no better way of describing how local-born youngster Jonny Howson will feel in the Old Trafford dressing room today.

Still only 21, Howson faces the legends of Manchester United in the FA Cup third round having already experienced more highs and lows than most players contend with in a lifetime.

Howson first walked into the Leeds United academy as a seven-year-old and spent his formative years watching Alan Smith, Mark Viduka and a great Leeds team reach the Champions League semi-finals.

But once Peter Ridsdale's philosophy became a byword for chronic financial mismanagement, it was left to Howson's generation to pick up the pieces of a [pounds sterling]60million debt, successive relegations and the slide into administration.

It is only this season, under Simon Grayson, that the club's revival has begun in earnest. But it is testimony to his good work that Leeds arrive for their first match at Old Trafford since 2004 as clear leaders of League One and odds-on favourites to win promotion.

'I'm sure a few memories will come back in the dressing room before the game, not just for me but for a lot of the lads who were here through the dark times,' says Howson. 'The hardest period was after being relegated from the Championship in 2007. The club were in administration, wages weren't being paid on time and we felt we were just a few days from the club being shut down.

'You'd get up in the morning and go into the training ground not really knowing if you'd have a job to go to. …

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