It’s safe to say that there were high expectations of Ian Rush when he arrived at Leeds United in the summer of 1996 after a hugely impressive spell with Liverpool.
Rush was signed by Howard Wilkinson at Elland Road, but he didn’t last long in the 1996/97 season, as Wilkinson was dismissed just a month into the campaign, as he was replaced by former Arsenal boss George Graham.
Rush struggled to replicate the performances he had shown with Liverpool though, and scored just three goals in 39 appearances before leaving Leeds after being given a free transfer at the end of the season.
Speaking in an interview with talkSPORT, Rush issued a somewhat surprising insight into life working for George Graham, and revealed that the former Gunners boss wanted to move him on early into his tenure in charge at Elland Road.
“George Graham comes in and George says he doesn’t want me.
“So I’ve said, ‘okay, what are we going to do?’ I think there were four or five of us at Leeds United who George tried to get rid of. He thought we were earning too much money!
“He ended up putting me on the right side of midfield. He said, ‘if you don’t want to play there, you don’t have to play’. I said, ‘I’ll play’ because I just wanted to play football. I would have played at right-back if he’d asked me to. He thought I wasn’t going to play and that would have made an easy decision for him.”
Rush went on to admit that Graham outlined his future plans for the former Liverpool man, and was forced to train with the younger members of the Leeds squad until they found a new club, which eventually came as Rush signed for Newcastle United.
“I carried on and played and at the end of the season he said, ‘listen, you best find yourself a club because you’re not really wanted at Leeds United’.
“And I said, ‘well until I get a club, I’m staying here’. There were about five of us that pre-season and he had us training with the kids. I then got a chance to go to Newcastle so I took it.
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It wasn’t the most memorable of spells for Rush at Leeds United.
There were obviously high hopes for the former Liverpool forward after such an impressive spell at Anfield, but it’s understandable that he didn’t make a similar impact at the age of 36.
It’s interesting to hear that George Graham was keen to move him on so early into his tenure in Yorkshire though, as you would have thought that he could have made a positive impact with the club.