The turn of the millennium has seen a very rapid decline at Leeds United, with their fall from the Premier League seeing them still picking up the pieces 16 years on under Marcelo Bielsa.
The Whites have seen some immense peaks and troughs since the year 2000, with a Champions League semi-final presenting the greatest highs to then experience the shame of a 1-0 loss to non-league Histon just seven years later, in the darkest period of the club’s history.
With their fluctuating status in that time, there have obviously been a lot of names come and go under an awful lot of different managers and owners. A side blessed with Premier League pedigree was stripped for parts as the decline started but the academy continued to churn out very talented players, and still does each year.
Many have tried and failed to restore pride at the club in the past 16 years but Marcelo Bielsa has galvanised the player and fans towards what looks like Leeds’ best chance at clinching promotion since they were first relegated.
A seven-point gap has presented itself to the Whites with just nine games left to play, after their West Yorkshire derby win over Huddersfield Town last time out.
With a break from football keeping Leeds from continuing their push towards the top flight, it has given everyone a chance to reflect on some of the better times at Elland Road.
As we revisit some of the best players to grace the pitch for Leeds since the turn of the millennium, we take a look at the four best left-backs in that time…
Ian Harte (2000-2004)
The Republic of Ireland international is the first name on the list and was around during the club’s European adventure, coming up with some vital contributions in his time.
A stunning performance at home to Deportivo was a highlight of his when his stunning free-kick opened the scoring and could have had more from similar positions, seeing the Whites record a blistering 3-0 win at Elland Road.
He managed an impressive four goals from left-back in that position and his extremely effective left-foot was a trademark of his career, scoring far more than your average full-back’s haul.
268 appearances for Leeds saw Harte notch a whopping 34 goals and eight assists, while also managing 65 caps for his country.
Have these players played for both Leeds and Huddersfield Town?
Andrew Hughes (2007-2010)
A utility man that was part of the side that clinched automatic promotion back to the Championship in 2010, Hughes was always a dependable member of the Leeds side that managed to restore some good times at Elland Road during his time.
Not blessed with the most talent in the side he played in, his hard work was what he used to make up for it, and while he wasn’t always deployed at left-back, he always put in a solid performance in any position he was selected for.
Hughes was a player that connected the fans with the squad due to the passion he showed when playing and this emotion all came pouring out when the club finally clinched promotion against Bristol Rovers.
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The best Leeds United XI since the Millennium - Left-backs
Stephen Warnock (2013-2015)
The former Liverpool man arrived at Elland Road under his namesake, Neil, and became a very solid member of the squad in a time where there wasn’t an awful lot of reliability within the club at the time.
A leader on the pitch, his experience was something that went a long way for Leeds in a time of turbulence; he made sure that there was at least some consistency for the club to cling onto.
He even chipped in with a few memorable performances and goals, including the iconic wind-assisted free-kick away to Yeovil Town in 2013/14 where his lofted cross flew all the way in from near the halfway line.
Charlie Taylor (2011-2017)
The last player on the list is the academy product, Charlie Taylor, who emerged in the 2014/15 season after a successful loan spell at Fleetwood Town in the previous campaign.
A stunning start to the season saw him push Warnock further and further out of the team until he was sold to Derby County, and Taylor never looked back from this.
His first goal came in the trip to Wolves where the Whites were on the end of a dramatic 4-3 defeat. Leeds had a very impressive crop of youngsters coming through at that time with Sam Byram, Taylor, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Kalvin Phillips all shining under Neil Redfearn.
The 2015/16 season saw Taylor begin to come into his own as he scooped up the club’s Player of the Year award with some scintillating play at both ends of the pitch for Leeds.
Garry Monk’s arrival allowed Taylor to continue his impressive form, but injuries towards the back end of the season kept him out before his move to Burnley ended his Leeds career on a sour note.
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