Against all odds, Alan Smith won over the Manchester United faithful following his move from hated rivals Leeds. He had previously claimed he would never sign for United, given his feelings for us growing up in Leeds, and when he arrived here, his scoring record was dreadful. Just 6 league goals in 31 appearances during his first season meant that our manager shifted him in to the centre of midfield, where he often looked out of depth and lacking confidence in what he was supposed to be doing.
But he was a trier and we loved him for it. We beat Chelsea to end their unbeaten run towards the start of the 05-06 season, which was a massive result for us back in those dark days, and Smithy was man of the match. Chelsea boasted a central midfield of Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele, but Smith bossed it. That, along with the goal he scored against Roma in our 7-1 thrashing, is my favourite memory of him at Old Trafford.
Smith will return on the first day of the 2010-2011 season with Newcastle, hoping to kick start their season back in the Premiership.
“Going back to any of your previous clubs is always a special moment,” said Smith. “And having got back into the Premier League, Manchester United away is a nice one to start with. We’re looking forward to the Premier League knowing that we need to be fitter and stronger, and the lads have come back focused and in good shape ready for the new season. We’re quietly confident inside the camp about what we can achieve and we’ve got to do ourselves proud and carry the momentum with us from last season.”