Somehow you always kind of figured that Andy Hughes and Leeds United might get on together.
Both club and player come from the more pugnacious end of life's spectrum – certainly for as long Mr K Bates runs the show in the Elland Road boardroom and Mr D Wise runs the dressing room, you sense that there are some kindred spirits afoot in Yorkshire these days.
Bates was at it again this week – offering up the prospect of finding boardroom space for ousted Newcastle United supremo Freddy Shepherd as two of football's larger characters continue to add to the pantomime script at Elland Road.
No-one likes them, but they have never, ever cared.
“Freddy is a good friend of mine and has been for years,” Bates was quoted as saying in The Guardian today, after weekend reports of the two dining together on Tyneside.
“Suzannah [Bates's wife] and I went up to see him and we finished up having lunch. Inevitably, the subject of football came out and he's still a bit sore about what happened at Newcastle. He would like to get back in [to football] and I would like an investor, so the two fit in,” added Bates.
“It's early discussions, though, that's all. Freddy is a wise old man – although he's younger than me – and he would be an ideal partner, but I'm here for the long haul.”
Left 15 points adrift of the rest of League One following this summer's run-in with both the Football League and the taxman, United's nigh-on perfect start to the new campaign has found Hughes throwing himself into the challenge with trade-mark enthusiasm.
Slammed in at left-back before Jamie Clapham's arrival on-loan, the 29-year-old was rolling his sleeves up in the heart of Wise's midfield in last weekend's 2-0 win over Hartlepool.
“Coming from Norwich, a lot of people would ask 'why the decision?',” said Hughes, speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post recently.
“I had a year left, and I'd played a lot of games for Norwich. The manager didn't want me to leave, but I just felt like something was right at this club.
“A lot has gone wrong (at Leeds), and I felt it was right to come and give it a go ? to have a fight. That's the sort of attitude I've been used to.”
Hughes certainly had a fight on his hands when it came to winning over the Canary faithful following his switch from Reading in the summer of 2005.
For some it was a fight that he never won; for others – particularly on the back of his spirited derby day efforts last season – his heart and enthusiasm came to out-weigh his unerring ability to find either the corner flag or Row H with a cross from the right.
But he was always a trier; some supporters came to love a trier. Others will, for ever, roll out A Hughes are proof positive that former boss Nigel Worthington wholly lost his way in the transfer market in the latter years of his reign.
Even the latter would, however, have to concede that Hughes was never one to shirk a challenge. Restoring Leeds to the top two tiers of English football is certainly that. As is restoring Leeds to the warm and abiding affections of the wider football family.
“Sometimes you can go through your career and just be happy,” he told the Post. “Norwich are a fantastic club with some wonderful people and players there. People might be happy to stay there and go along through life happy.
“I just felt that this was a challenge that people seemed to be going away from. Things are going against the club. But if I've been seen to come here and stand up for a fight then that's what I want. I'll try to give it my all.”
Playing for Leeds United was, he added, kind of a dream come true – though few would have imagined joining the club when they were 15 points adrift at the bottom of League One and staring League Two in the face. Not to mention an on-going confrontation with HM Customs and Revenue over a reported unpaid ?7 million tax bill.
“If you had turned round to me when I was 11-years-old and said: 'You're going to play for Leeds United…', I think any kid would snatch your hand off ? 100,000 kids in Leeds would.
“It could be the biggest challenge of my life, so I'll go at it full-on. It's a fantastic place to be and we want to make it better every day,” said Hughes, well aware of the unforgiving slog that looms.
“It's going to be an absolute grind this year. I was fortunate to win promotion with Reading out of this division, and I know how hard it is. We've got a tough weight on us but everyone's focused because so many people are against us ? or so it seems.”
Bates certainly doesn't encourage legions of well-wishers. However, if both he and the equally combative Wise can turn that siege mentality to their advantage and carry on from where they have started this season, then even Bates' fiercest critic will have to acknowledge the level of their achievement should they be back in the Championship next season.
Likewise should A Hughes be riding around Leeds city centre on an open-top bus next May having featured so large in any promotion campaign, then you would have to give Wise much credit for an inspired piece of transfer business.
Back in the boardroom and fresh from wiping out ?35 million worth of liabilities this summer, Bates is now hell-bent on over-turning the Football League's record-breaking points penalty. Do that and United would be flying at the top of the table, not fast playing catch-up at the bottom.
“The hard work has now been done, all of the rubbish is out of the way and the club is back on track,” said Bates yesterday. “The real league table shows we are two points clear at the top, or will be when we get our 15 points back.
“The club is in profit, the gates are back and we have average attendances higher than Middlesbrough, Wigan, Reading and Fulham,” added Bates, ruling out selling up to his old pal Shepherd.
“After two years of hard work, and three months of absolute hell, we can talk about football. The ground is slowly being improved and the team is strong. Why would I want to sell?”