The Derby County veteran graduated from the school yard of non-league football, not the ivy league of the Premiership. His first game in management was with Boston United against a Great Harwood Town side featuring the likes of Ronnie Clayton, Bryan Douglas and Roy Vernon, all former internationals. "We won 4-0 but the pressure is still the same, whatever club you are at," Smith said.
In his short spell as manager and caretaker at Elland Road, O'Leary has already demonstrated courage in his own convictions. Youngsters Stephen McPhail and Jonathan Woodgate, protected by his predecessor, George Graham, have been handed extended chances while Harry Kewell, off the boil so far this season, bubbled in an adapted role as one of the two Leeds strikers at Pride Park.
That meant Leeds were in control for much of a thrilling game and showed enough flare and unrelenting drive to unnerve the spies from Roma. O'Leary's immediate dilemma before tomorrow's Uefa Cup second round second leg at Elland Road, however, is to address the defensive deficiencies which allowed Derby to emerge with a point. That task is likely to be all the more difficult without their linchpin, Lucas Radebe, who sustained a knee injury on Saturday. The impact of Radebe's departure was immediately felt as Dean Sturridge evaded markers on the edge of the area to slide home Darryl Powell's splitting pass.
Leeds, one nil down from the first leg, will not be able to afford the type of Robert Molenaar- induced error which allowed Derby an early advantage when Sturridge was sent sprawling by the Dutchman, allowing Stefan Schnoor to convert the resulting penalty kick.
Molenaar made amends, with an unchallenged header shortly afterwards as Leeds controlled much of the first period, Kewell's deflected shot their reward before half time.
Goals: Schnoor (3) 1-0; Molenaar (16) 1-1; Kewell (43) 1-2; Sturridge (56) 2-2.
Derby County: (3-5-2): Hoult; Laursen, Stimac, Elliott (Harper, 79); Kozluk (Baiano, 79), Bohinen, Schnoor, Powell, Dorigo; Sturridge (Burton, 69), Wanchope. Subsititutes not used: Carbonari, Poom (gk).
Leeds United: (3-5-2): Robinson; Woodgate, Molenaar, Radebe (Wetherall, 50); Halle, Bowyer, Hopkin, McPhail, Harte; Hasselbaink (Winjhard, 77), Kewell. Substitutes not used: Haaland, Sharpe, Nuno Santos.
Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).
Bookings: Derby: Stimac, Elliott, Wanchope. Leeds: Hopkin, Harte.
Man of the Match: Schnoor.Reuse content