Back in mid-February Leeds United fans were hailing the upcoming return of one of their star players. Fans of the West Yorkshire side were hailing the upcoming return to action of Spanish playmaker Samuel Saiz with almost messiah like fervour.
The summer signing from SD Huesca had been Leeds’ standout player throughout the first half of the season. He then commited a despicable act, by spitting at an opponent in the FA Cup loss to Newport County and, rightly, received a six-game ban.
During that period Thomas Christiansen got the sack and Leeds went on a winless run through the duration of Saiz’s ban.
Then he returned, risen, Leeds’ hero to lead them back on a play-off charge. He made an excellent cameo off the bench in the 2-2 draw with Derby County on his first game back before Leeds finally won again, for the first time since Boxing Day, in his next game. Saiz played nearly the full 90, before coming off in the final minute of added time to rapturous applause from his adoring fans.
However, Saiz has not dragged Leeds back into form.
The Whites have won just once in the eight games since that fixture. Saiz, despite the odd moment of brilliance, had not recaptured the form that saw him tearing through Championship defences earlier in the season.
Much of that is down to the manager. Paul Heckingbottom appears reluctant to allow Saiz the freedom to cut loose, unlike his predecessor. Now, the Spanish wizard is struggling to start games with the unpopular Dutchman Jay-Roy Grot and returning Kemar Roofe preferred for last night’s loss at Preston North End.
Saiz, perhaps, only has himself to blame. His indiscretion v Newport was appalling and disrupted the rhythm of his season.
He has not proven to be the messiah that Leeds United fans hoped he would be. Hopefully next season he can start much as he did this term, but then continue to perform that way for an entire campaign.