It made interesting reading on another blog this week, to read that for the sum of £22m received for the transfers of Wood & Taylor to Burnley, we had spent roughly that equivalent amount on incoming transfers. Resulting a nett spend of nil on transfers.
If we are again to believe the tabloid media, Twitter etc then Leeds have instituted quite a rigid wage structure too now, around £15,000 per week. Eye watering enough for you & I but of course small change in a world where the likes of Neymar are probably earning that in roughly 5 hours..
It paints a picture of frugality, and even with the purchase of Tyler Roberts today for a modest £2.5m we are far from the biggest spenders in the Championship – so should we really be surprised at being 10th?
It’s positive that they seem more prepared than GFH or Bates to admit their mistakes and have of course instituted a revised process for this – fair play, however it is their transfer policy which continues to trouble.
Of all the pictures on the official website today – where was Thomas Christiansen with this landmark signing?
Nowhere.. it was Hombre de dia – Victor Orta.. our director of football.
Orta is in charge of transfers in and out, Christiansen may well have some say in matters but it was of course this model which (allegedly) contributed to Garry Monk’s premature departure from Leeds. Leeds and English football in general, doesn’t have a great history when it comes to this (very continental) model, you can’t imagine the likes of Sir Alex, Sam Allardyce or for that matter Neil Warnock putting up with not having total control over the players they bring in and ship out.
And of course for good reason, in the British game managers and clubs usually have their own scouting networks, but a manager is used to selecting who fits into his style of play, the players themselves often move for the manager.
I for one am glad we’ve signed Tyler Roberts, as a midlander I’ve heard nothing but good things about him from Baggies fans and those connected with the club alike, they are by and large – gutted – to have lost him.
However, most of us who watched Leeds last season could prioritise what the club needed. Lets analyse what Orta did..
He let Rob Green go, and replaced him with Felix Wiedwald – who has taken literally until now to settle in, without disparaging one of our players he was at times a total liability to the team whilst on his learning curve, the player brought in as back up Andy Lonergan has also shown flashes of brilliance but memorable bloopers.
Verdict : Weaker than last season
Admittedly there was little that could be done with Bartley being recalled to Swansea – but even as he fell back into their reserves it seemed little apparent effort was being made to re-sign him.. Jansson’s signing was a good bit of business, and we kept hold of Ayling, and Berardi..
Other than this though we seemed to look to inexperienced players to bolster the defence, Shaughnessy has the odd mistake in him, ditto Cooper. Pennington doesn’t seem consistent either. We needed a replacement for Taylor at left back, but Orta brought us no decent options here, forcing us to play Vurnon Anita or Berardi there – both out of position and guess what – it didn’t work. Tyler Denton was loaned out so not an option either? Its taken till now to sign Laurens de Bock – who looks decent – but how many points did we lose in the intervening period as a result of this?
Lest we forget Ortas dire selection though of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, surely our worst ever left back on loan from Man Utd?… hes already been sent back from his season long loan, a damning indictment of any player. Disinterested, lazy and poor.
At right back in fairness we had two options in Berardi and Ayling – but with Ayling injured surely to god we need some cover there, again at time of writing we were told he wont be coming back from Fleetwood – despite being virtually ever present this season there and playing at the top of his game…
Our central defensive crisis due to injuries and suspensions shows us just how weak we are there too.
Verdict – De Bock looks a decent signing, but we need more quality across the back to support himself and Jansson
This is the most perplexing area of all. Weve signed Anita, Saiz, Alioski, Sacko, Klich and of course recently Forshaw.
We let midfield enforcer Bridcutt go for £1m to Notts Forest, much like the problem left back position our central midfield looked far too lightweight with Vieira and `Mad Dog’ O’Kane, Phillips has frustrated most who watched him, either brilliant or dire..
Anita seemed to only ever pitch up at left back, and poor Mateusz Klich signed to great fanfare – it seemed the lucas the kopcat would more likely get a game ahead of him, wither injuries, suspensions or nuclear war.. Christiansen simply wouldn’t play him, he’s been loaned to FC Utrecht.
The signing of Forshaw – and in fairness he looks a good signing, much like De Bock just came way too late after Bridcutts departure, and why let a similar player go for £1m – and sign a £2.5m rated one for £4m?
Nobody expected Sacko to be permanently signed – and indeed Christiansen has barely used him – he just doesn’t seem right for English football?
So that’s another £1.7m we didn’t need to spend. Alioski and Saiz seem the pick of the bunch with the latter top class. Both give us real depth in a position where Hernandez was overused last season and tired. With Cibicki signed late in the summer we are certainly overpopulated in this area – and this player only really got starts since December.
Verdict : Stronger than last season, but an imbalanced selection, with 2 notable signings surplus to requirement in Sacko and Klich..
When Wood went we were left with Kemar Roofe of the previous seasons squad, and Orta signed Caleb Ekuban, only really experienced in Albanias top flight, and the relatively unproven Jay-Roy Grot.
Late in the summer transfer window we brought Lasogga in on loan from Hamburg too.
Ekuban has been unlucky with two serious injuries and has barely contributed. Jay Roy Grot has proven too inexperienced and has dropped into the U23’s – a big fall from grace for a £1.5m signing, Lasogga splits opinion, when fed well from midfield he does score goals but he is not as mobile as Wood despite a respectable return of 7 goals.
Kemar Roofe is probably our most consistent scorer with 11 this season, but he can drift in and out of games. In short we haven’t replaced Wood. There was clamour amongst Leeds fans for signing Hugill from Preston, but weve ended up signing Roberts from West Brom – a good signing to be sure – but surely someone who will improve long term.
Verdict : Weaker, plenty of potential with Ekuban, Roberts and Grot, but Lasogga and Roofe aren’t in the same league as Wood up front..
The challenge we are told to buying Hugill, Dembele or Maddison was financial, but look at the near £3m nett loss on Bridcutt/Forshaw £1.5m spent on Bridcutt, £1.6m on Klich £1.5m on Grot, £1.7m on Sacko it all adds up the above comes to just over £9m – initially what Preston wanted for Hugill.. and well over what Peterborough wanted for Maddison..
It’s this profligacy which bothers me with Ortas signings, genuinely who has improved the team? Saiz, Alioski, and not many others.. combine that with effectively wasted transfer fees on Klich and the wages of Borthwick Jackson and the picture gets a lot worse…
The other area of criticism levelled most often at Orta surrounds `signings for the future’ Leeds fans watched impassively as the likes of Rey, Machuca, Temenuzhkov et al appeared from Barcelona and Real Madrid to boldter the U23 squad. However when we needed real activity for the senior squad that turned to disappointment as the likes of Aapo Halme signed for £500k from HJK Helsinki, Sam Dalby for a six figure sum from Leyton Orient, Oliver Sarkic from Benfica… they all cost money – and none of them are playing from the senior team – indeed no signing for the U23s has appeared in the first team yet?
Lets not get started on Ideguchi – signed and then loaned straight out to a second division Spanish side when we were bereft of midfield options – this despite him getting s full UK work permit.
Theres good stuff happening off the pitch, buying back Elland Road, an woner who does listen to the fans and is prepared to spend what he receives (compare that to the Bates model! Sell – and then give the manager no funds)
But a balanced and happy squad (and manager) is also key – We’ve bought players we didn’t need or who weren’t good enough – surely we need to look after our money better here and I would contest the value Orta has brought here – that a decent head of scouting and recruitment working under the manager wouldn’t bring – for significantly less cost.
Reporter | Matt Brown-Bolton