Despite a cruel run of injuries, the squad he takes to White Hart Lane for Wednesday's FA Cup replay is fifth in the table and has an even chance of making the quarter-finals. Yet he sensibly dampens down their prospects by talking of "over achievement; I'm not sure we can sustain it", while demonstrating the ambition that Leeds supporters demand by claiming "I'd like to think we can create an era as successful as Don Revie's." Not many first jobbers would set their sights that high.
Less reluctant than Graham to give young players their head, the apparently easy-going Irishman has echoed his master's voice in confronting any seniors whose standards slip. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink did recently, so, O'Leary says: "I had a one to one with him after the Spurs game. I don't think he liked it much but he went out and showed me what he can do on the pitch." The outcome was two goals and a shot against the inside of a post in last Wednesday's win at Aston Villa, then an assist for Saturday's winning goal and a goal-line save in the last minute that showed a discipline and commitment to team work few would have expected of the Dutchman.
The goal-scorer was Hasselbaink's fellow-countryman Willem Korsten, secured on loan from Vitesse Arnhem until the end of the season with an option to buy, that will certainly be taken up on this form.
His promise brought some life to an otherwise dull afternoon in which a more familiar Everton took over again from the wolves in sheep's shirts who had Middlesbrough cowering at Goodison last week.
Their new striking partnership of Francis Jeffers and Don Hutchison achieved nothing and had to give way after an hour to the previously discredited pair, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri, who were equally unsuccessful. Nick Barmby, having remembered how to hit the target in midweek, promptly forgot again and it was a defender, Marco Materazzi, whose header forced Hasselbaink's late clearance.
Left dangling three points above the relegation places, Everton's manager, Walter Smith, professed no interest in other results, arguing: "We can't look at other teams and hope they'll do it for us."
Goal: Korsten (56) 1-0.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Halle, Radebe, Wetherall, Harte; Haaland, Bowyer (Jones, 84), Hopkin, Korsten; Kewell (Smith, 70), Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Wijnhard, Granville.
Everton (4-4-2): Myhre; Dunne, Materazzi, Unsworth, Ball; Oster (Weir, 75), Dacourt, Grant (Cadamarteri, 61), Barmby; Hutchison, Jeffers (Bakayoko, 61). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Watson.
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow). Bookings: Leeds: Haaland, Hasselbaink. Everton: Barmby, Dunne, Materazzi.
Man of the match: Korsten.
Attendance: 36,344.Reuse content