Leeds United confirmed the dismissal of Victor Orta as the club's sporting director on Tuesday morning.
Following talks with Andrea Radrizzani in the hours after Leeds' dismal 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday, Orta's departure was agreed by mutual consent. The former Middlesbrough chief spent almost six years at Elland Road as Radrizzani's right hand man, but has come increasingly under fire in the last 12 months among supporters.
A number of his decisions both on and off the pitch have ultimately led to another season of struggle, with Leeds facing a huge task to preserve their Premier League status in the final four matches. So, with that in mind, here is a look at four costly mistakes that have cost him his job.
In football recruitment, there are always going to be hits and misses, but in the case of Orta, far too many of his signings have been the latter in recent windows. Leeds have spent hundreds of millions of pounds since promotion in 2020, but it is difficult to argue that the current squad of players is any better than the one which won the Championship.
After finishing ninth in their first season back in the Premier League, Leeds signed just two new first-team players in Junior Firpo and Daniel James, both of which will have to go down as failures. After narrowly avoiding the drop 12 months ago, Leeds were much busier in the summer window, but again too many of his signings have not been good enough.
The best part of £100 million has been spent on Brenden Aaronson, Marc Roca, Rasmus Kristensen and Georginio Rutter in the last two transfer windows, all of whom have not made the impact required. In defence of Rutter, he clearly has big potential, and may come good in time, but Leeds needed a striker ready to hit the ground running straight away.
Orta opted against going down that route, which pretty much sums his time at Leeds up.
Bielsa sacking/succession plan
Given the run of results in Marcelo Bielsa's final month or so in charge, it is difficult to argue against his sacking being the correct call. But Orta's Bielsa succession plan was nothing short of a disaster and has quickly destroyed so much of what the Argentine built at the club.
Jesse Marsch was the man Orta chose as Bielsa's replacement and it almost instantly became clear that it was the wrong call. Leeds required a manager built on the same ethos as Bielsa, but who could also adapt so that they could tighten up defensively.
Marsch's brand of football harnessed very little in the way of similarities to Bielsa, though, with Leeds relying too heavily on a high press to create chances, and fielding a formation with very little width. It is difficult to see how Orta ever thought he was the right man.
Dragging heels on sacking Marsch
Sticking on the topic of Marsch, it was again down to Orta that the American lasted as long as he did at Elland Road. Following an eight-match winless run, Leeds supporters had already turned against Marsch but back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Bournemouth did nothing other than paper over the cracks.
Marsch should've been sacked ahead of the World Cup break to give a new manager plenty of time to implement his ideas on the squad, but instead Orta dug his heels in until the beginning of February, on the back of another run of seven matches without a win.
By the time he was eventually dismissed, Leeds had left it too late in the season to prise any of their first choice targets away from their current clubs. That led to the appointment of Javi Gracia, who is now set to be sacked as well.
'Sack the board' outburst
Orta's relationship with supporters became all but unfixable following a 4-3 victory over Bournemouth in November. On numerous occasions the Elland Road faithful displayed their discontent towards the club's hierarchy with chants of 'sack the board'.
However, after Leeds came from 3-1 down to beat the Cherries, Orta was videoed sarcastically shouting 'sack the board' to surrounding fans in the West Stand. Whatever he thought that would achieve, only he knows, but it definitely did little to endear him back into the hearts of supporters, not least because Leeds would not win another Premier League match for more than three months after the outburst.
- Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani's purported 'responsibility' message as slide continues