One man who has received plenty of stick recently from Leeds United fans is the club’s sporting director Victor Orta. With Leeds slipping down the table and out of promotion contention, much of the attention has turned to the recruitment done by the Spaniard.
Whilst there have been some success stories, such as Samuel Saiz, other players have been poor or inconsistent. Felix Wiedwald, Ezgjan Alioski and Laurens De Bock all stand out as players who have had poor or mixed seasons. Not only that, but Leeds fans are unhappy with his habit of filling the development squad with foreign talent rather than the first-team.
But Leeds did make some signings this summer that, on paper, looked like good Championship recruits.
Matthew Pennington, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Vurnon Anita and Andy Lonergan all arrived in the summer.
Pennington, a loan signing from Everton, has some Premier League and Football League experience. Borthwick-Jackson arrived on loan from Manchester United. The left-back had previously had a spell on loan at Wolves and played in the Premier League with United. Anita arrived on a free transfer from Newcastle United, where he had won the Championship last season. Lonergan arrived with the most experience of all. A former Leeds captain, the goalie has also played with Preston, Bolton, Fulham and Wolves.
But all four of these signings, that looked like good Championship recruits with Football League experience, have flattered to deceive.
Pennington has had his good moments but injury has blighted his Elland Road stay. Borthwick-Jackson became a forgotten man at Leeds. After De Bock was signed, the 21-year-old was sent back to Old Trafford. Anita has largely been a substitute this season and has failed to cement a place in the starting XI. Lonergan was brought in for the out-of-sorts Wiedwald but struggled for form. Both goalkeepers have now dropped below youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the pecking order.
So whilst Leeds can blame Orta for his poor foreign recruitment, it is harsh to do so with this quartet. All four seemed to be good, solid, options for Championship football. But they have simply not put in the performances expected of them.
Orta will undoubtedly take a share of the blame for Leeds’ capitulation this season. The lack of recruitment in January has proven criminal.
But at the end of the day it is the players that cross that white line. Even those that arrived from English football have simply not done enough at Elland Road this season.