Leeds United chairman Ken Bates further infuriated home fans, and stuck the knife a little further into the back of his former manager Simon Grayson with comments made on Wednesday to Yorkshire Radio.
In his weekly “state address” to the clubs official radio station, Bates spoke about the termination of Finnish International Mika Vayraynen’s contact earlier in the week:
“ Vay-ry-en… I can never get his name right; I don’t know why we signed him” he told Ben Fry. “Nice guy but a complete waste of money. Made two starts and cost us half a million quid in fees and salary. I just don’t know why he was signed. And I’m sorry for him but even more sorry for us.”
Although not a direct criticism of the man who signed him, the comments are another in a string of thinly veiled attacks on the players signed by Simon Grayson. In recent weeks the chairman has taken every opportunity to slate the previous management team, be it the training methods, the quality of the signings or the number of loan players at the club. Bates has commented that the squad is too large and that quality has been sacrificed for the sake of quantity.
What is most galling for the Leeds supporters to stomach is the inference that money has been wasted on players. The overall spend on transfers by United this season, has been a paltry £800K on Danny Pugh and Andy Lonergen.
Compare that to the £4M raised by the sales of Kasper Schmeichel, Max Gradel and Jonny Howson and it’s a difficult case to argue that there has been a spending spree. The fact that the three players sold were the brightest prospects at the club, one could even say that there has been a loss of focus on the playing side.
The fans see money being wasted in other areas that have no bearing on the ultimate aim of the club – to win football matches. £5M spent on refurbishing the newest stand in the ground, to provide plush corporate entertainment is the most notable expenditure at Elland Road this season. When that is added to less headline making loans to the Pavilion (the clubs conference and entertainment facility) and the clubs Media company, then one can understand the fans frustrations.
In such a tightly contested division as the Championship, the investment of even a portion of that money could possibly have seen Leeds force their way into the play-off picture. As it is they languish 28 points behind newly promoted Reading, a team they were just three points behind when Simon Grayson was sacked.
Now the team are languishing in mid-table, with the only people wasting money being the loyal fans that are paying for tickets to see the team go through the motions.
There is plenty of talk emanating from the club that signings are imminent, to enable Neil Warnock to have his squad in place early to prepare for a promotion push next season. The big questions on the lips of Leeds fans are not only who the signings may be, but if we are going to be spending money. As has been proven, new players do not necessarily bring success. They have to be quality, and to get those players the chairman is going to have to part with some cash. Promotion will require him “wasting” more than the half a million pounds squandered on Mika Vayraynen.