Smith’s inactivity dissuaded Leeds from new approach for ex-Whites striker
The 31-year-old was wanted by the Elland Road club last summer but agreement could not be reached with Newcastle United over a move that would have involved the Premier League club paying a significant percentage of his £60,000-per-week wage.
Since then, Smith has managed just five minutes of first-team action in two appearances from the bench for Alan Pardew’s side and was earlier this month made available for transfer.
MK Dons subsequently made a move for Smith over the weekend and the former England international is in line to make his debut in tonight’s League One game with Sheffield Wednesday.
Leeds manager Grayson said: “There was a lot of speculation about Alan over the summer. He was a player that we thought about many times but, purely from a football point of view, we had to ask if it was worth doing.
“Alan has not played many games so it would be difficult to bring him back. Put that against the financial aspect and it would have been a big gamble.”
MK Dons’ capture of Smith is seen as something of a coup, not least because the League One outfit will only contribute £2,500 of Smith’s weekly wages during his loan stay at stadium:mk until the end of the season.
Asked if such a deal would not have made Smith a gamble worth taking, Grayson replied: “Believe me, we would not have got Alan Smith for £2,500 per week. I think you could add an extra nought on the end.
“I saw the MK Dons manager (Karl Robinson) on Saturday and he was buzzing to have someone of Alan’s calibre. But, in terms of ourselves, it didn’t get far enough to think about that.
“Our first target in midfield was getting Fabian (Delph) back. We didn’t discuss (Smith) to that length. We discussed it more in the summer.”
Smith will be out of contract in the summer and Grayson has not ruled out a future move for a striker who made 172 appearances for his hometown club before leaving to join Manchester United in 2004.
Grayson, whose own side take on Birmingham City tonight, said: “The best thing he can do is go out and get games. He wasn’t someone we went back in for but it is also something we will keep an eye on over the next few weeks and months.”
Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson says Smith is a player he has always admired but never been able to afford.
“He’s had a fantastic career and I remember being asked, when I was manager at West Bromwich Albion, if there was one player in the country I could sign who would it be? I said him (Alan Smith) because I thought he was a fantastic player and I really like his drive and desire.
“He was at Leeds and a great player. But I could never afford him,” Megson added. “Now he’s gone to MK Dons and he will be joining a good squad of players.”
Wednesday striker Gary Madine revealed that Smith had been one of his favourite players when growing up as a teenager in the North East.
He owns one of the striker’s Newcastle United shirts which he had asked for after a Championship game with Coventry City three years ago.
“I am a big fan of his but he’s playing in League One against us now so he’s no different to the rest of us,” said Madine, who spent three months on loan at Coventry from Carlisle United in the 2009-2010 season.
“I asked for his shirt when I played against him at Coventry and I have still got it,” he added. “He’s a good player and his work rate is second to none. He runs around, puts himself about, and has a good first touch.”
Madine is set for a recall tonight as the Owls look to move nine points clear of MK Dons, who are currently fifth in League One. A victory would also lift the Owls back into second spot in the table above Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United.