A Leeds United fan ludicrously rated all 112 loan signings since relegation

Leeds United‘s Football League odyssey: 16 years, 15 managers, two play-off final defeats, three seasons in League One, 25 points deducted and a revolving door of owners, players and absolute chancers.

In 2017, Leeds fan Rob Conlon decided to rate the 100 loan signings the club had made since relegation from the Premier League – inspired by the fine work of The Beaten Generation.

Now promotion has been assured, he finally feels comfortable to revisit and update the list, a potted history of almost two decades in the wilderness.

1. Stephen Crainey

Crainey was only technically on loan at Leeds for four days before his loan move was made permanent, but it never really happened for him at Elland Road, despite being an actual left-back at a time when we struggled for actual left-backs.

Still, he went on to play in the Premier League, with Blackpool, a theme which will continue throughout this list.

2. Brett Ormerod

I’ve still not forgiven Ormerod for missing a penalty in a 1-0 defeat against Sunderland in one of my early visits to Elland Road after he had wrestled the ball away from Jermaine Wright, on his way to scoring zero goals in six matches.

Still, he went on to play in the Premier League, with Blackpool, a theme which will continue throughout this list.

3. John Oster

Eight appearances, one goal, a fine after being arrested in Durham, Oster’s loan spell was eventually terminated due to what Kevin Blackwell wonderfully described as “shenanigans” at the Christmas party.

Still, he went on to play in the Premier League, with Reading, a theme…

READ: A forensic analysis of David Batty bullying Sampdoria just for fun

4. Nathan Blake

Blake scored his final career goal at Leeds during a loan spell which lasted all of two games before he ruptured a hamstring. Two games, one goal. As far as forgettable loan moves go, that’s quite alright.

5. Leandre Griffit

Not actually convinced he ever existed.

6. Paul Harrison

The founding member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: Zero.

7. Michael Gray

We liked Michael Gray. He was a solution at left-back, he was energetic, he gave a sh*t. Sadly, the second time he joined on loan he was part of the side which was relegated to League One, which seems unfair.

8. Rob Hulse

Now we’re talking. One of the few genuine success stories of Leeds United’s loan signings, Hulse scored two beauties on his debut against Reading and ended his spell with six goals in 13 appearances before joining on a permanent deal.

He finished as Leeds’ top scorer the following season as the club were beaten in the play-offs before joining Premier League-bound Sheffield United.

9. Marlon King

Leeds could have signed King on a permanent deal after his loan spell ended and the striker was keen to stay, but he had failed to score and so was allowed to join Watford.

The following season he finished as the Championship’s top scorer and was part of the Watford team which beat Leeds in the play-off final. Extremely Leeds, that.

10. Jonathan Douglas

In the chequered past of Leeds United loan deals, Douglas has to be considered a success.

His first year at the club saw Leeds reach the play-off final but the club were relegated the following season, after his move was made permanent. The midfielder remained loyal and became captain, when he was involved with two more unsuccessful play-off campaigns.

The late-noughties were tough, alright?

11. Liam Miller

Southampton vs Leeds – November 19, 2005.

70 mins played: Southampton 3-0 Leeds

86 mins played: Southampton 3-4 Leeds

If you’re going to score just one goal on loan at a club, make it this one.

12. Danny Graham

Three appearances for Leeds and no goals. Eighteen goals in the Premier League.

13. Geoff Horsfield

Signed as Rob Hulse’s replacement, Horsfield scored twice in six months before Dennis Wise decided not to take up the option to sign the striker on a permanent deal.

A fair call, but it at least spared Horsfield the ignominy of relegation. Everybody wins. Except Leeds, obviously.

14. Tony Warner

Thirteen appearances in his first spell on loan, Warner was one of four goalkeepers to appear for Leeds in the season they suffered relegation to the third tier.

In his second spell, he became a member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: Zero.

15. Alan Wright

I don’t actually have any recollection of Alan Wright joining Leeds, possibly because Steve Stone was also at the club at the time. Maybe we were just trying to out-bald the opposition that season, which would probably explain why we were relegated.

An early warning sign that we shouldn’t sign left-backs on loan.

16. Adam Johnson

The less said about this, the better.

17. Graham Stack

If four goalkeepers turn out for one club in a single season, it’s probably not a good sign. Alas, Stack can count himself as one of the quartet of stoppers to turn out in goal as Leeds were relegated to League One.

Leeds conceded 21 goals in his 12 appearances.

18. Matt Heath

Proud scorer of Leeds United’s last header from a corner, against Burnley in 2007.

19. Ugo Ehiogu

He only played six times for Leeds in 2006-07, and Leeds could probably have done with a defender of his experience for a lot longer than that.

20. Tresor Kandol

Signing players on loan from Barnet when you’re embroiled in a relegation battle probably isn’t a good omen, but Kandol will always be remembered fondly for his performances as Leeds immediately wiped out their points deduction of -15 points at the start of their maiden campaign in League One.

21. Armando Sa

Not actually convinced he ever existed, part II.

22. Alan Thompson

Given Thompson had won a fair amount at Celtic, played for England once, and was really good at free-kicks, it was a relatively encouraging signing. As it transpired, Thompson arrived in West Yorkshire about two years too late.

The fact I’d completely forgotten he then joined permanently doesn’t bode well either.

23. Casper Ankergren

His initial loan spell may have ended in relegation, but Ankergren still became a fans’ favourite, and only enhanced his reputation after joining permanently, shining in the famous victory at Old Trafford and exhilarating draw at White Hart Lane.

24. Jemal Johnson

Jesus Christ, how many loan players did we sign when we got relegated?

25. Radostin Kishishev

No, seriously, why did we sign so many players on loan that season?

26. Lubomir Michalik

Fourteen players. We signed fourteen players on loan that season. What the f*ck did we expect?

27. Jamie Clapham

Lads, left-backs on loan, you’ve already been warned.

28. Mark De Vries

Signed on loan due to an injury crisis alongside Wayne Andrews but, unlike Andrews, managed to score a single goal.

It’s probably best you don’t mention either of their names at Elland Road.

29. Wayne Andrews

See above.

30. Darren Kenton

F*ck me the Ken Bates years were bleak.

31. Alan Sheehan

A heart-warming lower-league habit of combining some very good goals with some very rash tackles.

Sheehan earned himself a permanent deal, which is good going for a left-back signed on loan by Leeds.

Speaking of which…

32. Stephen O’Halloran

In the warm-up for what should have been his debut, O’Halloran suffered an anterior cruciate injury which kept him out of the game for a year.

Please, just stop signing left-backs on loan.

33. Dougie Freedman

We liked Dougie. He seemed nice and intelligent and scored a crucial goal against Carlisle in the play-off semi-finals.

34. Neil Kilkenny

Kilkenny was on loan for exactly three days just to ensure he could play against Northampton Town before making his move permanent.

A polarising figure among Leeds fans, he goes down as a success in our book due to blowing raspberries at Adel Taarabt and celebrating scoring on his return to Elland Road by taking the p*ss out of Ken Bates.

35. Lee Trundle

If Lee Trundle of Soccer AM compilations turned up at Leeds it would have been great fun.

He didn’t.

36. Richard Naylor

There’s been an annoying habit at Leeds of centre-backs arriving on loan, impressing, then going to sh*t after the move is turned permanent.

It would be harsh to rank Naylor among that list, however. He may have struggled somewhat in the Championship, but captained the club to promotion from League One and also to the stunning victory over Manchester United.

37. Carl Dickinson

As far as left-backs on this list go, Carl was fine, y’know?

38. Liam Dickinson

As far as Dickinsons on this list go, we probably shouldn’t talk about Liam.

39. Sam Sodje

Scorer of a tremendous own goal and also popped his own dislocated shoulder back into place during a play-off semi-final. It’s a shame he didn’t stick around for longer. It would have been fun.

40. Darryl Flahavan

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: Zero.

He did return to the club to become goalkeeping coach for a bit though.

41. Michael Doyle

I spoke to Doyle for an oral history of Leeds’ promotion from League One and it turns out he’s one of the finest people on this godforsaken planet. He absolutely loves Leeds, and I absolutely love him.

READ: ‘F*ck it, I’m getting stuck in’: An oral history of Leeds 2-1 Bristol Rovers, 2010

42. Frank Fielding

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: Zero.

England call-ups: One.

43. Sam Vokes

Annoyingly only scored once for Leeds before becoming a Premier League striker and Wales hero at Euro 2016.

44. Max Gradel

Speaking of Euro 2016, when I visited Saint-Etienne while following England’s group games, I desperately tried to spark conversation with locals by saying the words “Max Gradel” in various embarrassing French accents and pronunciations.

After a while common ground seemed to be established: “Mad Max was f*cking brilliant.”

At least I think that’s what the nervous nods meant.

45. Hogan Ephraim

I can literally tell you nothing about Hogan Ephraim’s time on loan at Leeds, other than he used to pop up on Football Manager quite a lot.

46. Tony Capaldi


47. David Martin

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: One (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy).

48. Shane Lowry

Rather than sign a left-back on loan it was decided to sign a centre-back on loan and play him at left-back.

Re-watching the Bristol Rovers game on LUTV, Andy Hughes couldn’t even say Lowry’s name, referring to him only as “the left-back” while concluding: “He offered us nothing that year.”

49. Gary McSheffrey

Popular at Coventry City, less so at Leeds United.

50. Neill Collins

A candidate for the select group of decent-on-loan-but-not-very-good-when-signed-permanently centre-backs, although he was never actually that good on loan either.

He seems like a good bloke at least.

51. Sanchez Watt

Over two spells on loan at Leeds there was the sense that Watt could probably be quite a good footballer. Injuries and better players ahead of him meant he never quite did it enough consistently. He now plays for Wealdstone.

52. Adam Clayton

Looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights when he initially joined but Leeds stuck with him, signed him permanently, sent him out on loan themselves, and he eventually returned a decent midfielder.

Maybe not the most popular of players, but Neil Warnock probably cut off his nose to spite his face by selling the midfielder, who later helped Middlesbrough get promoted.

53. Jason Brown

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: Four.

54. George McCartney

FFS, another left-back.

55. Ben Alnwick

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: 0

56. Andy O’Brien

Okay, the chief example of a centre-back to impress on loan before it all went wrong once he signed permanently.

57. David Gonzalez

Member of the Leeds United Reserve Goalkeeper Signed On Loan Committee.

Appearances: 0

Not actually convinced he ever existed, part III.

58. Eric Lichaj

A decent full-back who has gone on to have a decent Championship career with Nottingham Forest. All parties involved seemed to want him to stay in LS11 longer.

59. Barry Bannan

With Leeds flying high on their return to the Championship, Simon Grayson targeted a couple of experienced players to bolster the spine of the team and consolidate a place in the play-offs.

Instead, Bannan and Jake Livermore arrived on loan and Leeds finished seventh.

60. Jake Livermore

See above. Somehow became an England international.

READ: Simon Grayson: Ken Bates didn’t have ambition to get Leeds Utd promoted

61. Darren O’Dea

Just no.

62. Andy Keogh

An honest grafter when Leeds probably needed a bit more quality.

Last year I got to see him play for Perth Glory in the Australian A-League and he was dishing out the Leeds Salute for fun, so he’s fine by me.

63. Danny Pugh

Simon Grayson was probably hoping for more when Leeds re-signed Pugh on loan.

His little renaissance under Brian McDermott was quite heart warming though.

64. Alex McCarthy

Parachuted in after Andy Lonergan picked up an injury, it quickly became apparent that McCarthy was in fact much better than our actual No.1.

65. Andros Townsend

Townsend actually performed quite well for Leeds but has since become embroiled in a few Twitter spats with the club’s fans in which he has learnt a cruel lesson: football fans are much better at banter than football players.

66. Fabian Delph

Returned to Leeds to get some first-team football after a serious injury blighted the start to his Aston Villa career, made five appearances then got injured again. It’s just what we do.

READ: The sad story of Wesley Boyle’s ruined Leeds career

67. Adam Smith

Barely hung around long enough before being recalled by Tottenham, he’s since become an established Premier League player as part of Bournemouth’s generic nobodies.

68. Paul Robinson

A Neil Warnock signing and a left-back. Let’s just leave it at that.

69. Michael Tonge

Warnock’s trusted lieutenant in midfield, you always knew what you were getting from Tonge. Whether that’s a good thing or not you can decide, all I’m going to say is it used to make me tired watching him try to run.

Sadly his best moment in a Leeds shirt, that volley against Sheffield Wednesday, is somewhat overshadowed by the fact a fan celebrated by decking Chris Kirkland.

70. Ryan Hall

Signed permanently despite Warnock appearing to agree he was rubbish, Hall was released mid-season after tweeting: “Look on the bright side if your not getting played take the L out and get payed.”

His next club was non-league outfit Bromley. Hopefully they taught him how to spell paid.

71. Alan Tate

The thinking man’s Garry Monk.

72. Jerome Thomas

Another winger. Another so-so player who barely hung around long enough. Nobody was really that arsed when he rejected a permanent move to fight for a place at West Brom.

73. Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley. Ross Actual Barkley. One of the most talented young English players of his generation. Imagine that. Imagine signing one of the most talented young English players on loan when you’re desperately in need of some inspiration to get you out of the Championship.

Imagine him being the only shining light in a derby defeat to Barnsley. Imagine him then getting dropped by Neil Warnock to accommodate Michael Brown.

This f*cking club.

74. Habib Habibou

Great name, great history of throwing ducks from football pitches, great Twitter presence, not so great striker. That he was allowed to go on holiday before his loan spell ended says it all.

READ: Ranking 35 of Leeds United’s weirdest signings since relegation from the PL

75. Dexter Blackstock

Scored with his very first touch in a Leeds shirt and probably could have been decent but we typically broke him and he was sent back to Nottingham Forest with a serious knee injury.

76. Cameron Stewart

Leeds needed wingers in January 2014 and boy did we get wingers.

Stewart joined on loan with a three-year contract already agreed to start at the end of the season, only for Leeds to renege on the deal, with the one-time Manchester United man subsequently taking legal action against the club.

Extremely Leeds, that.

77. Jimmy Kebe

F*ck me the GFH years were bleak.

78. Jack Butland

Arrived at Elland Road with aspirations of making England’s squad for the 2014 World Cup, left having conceded 28 goals in 16 games and his hopes of travelling to Brazil dashed by playing behind a ramshackle defence at a time when the club, fans and players were having a nervous breakdown following Massimo Cellino’s takeover.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

79. Connor Wickham

At the time Wickham was still renown as the burgeoning young striker who earned a big-money move to the Premier League, it only took a couple of matches for Leeds to stick him on the wing and reduce him to the occasional long throw.

80. Souleymane Doukara

Signed on loan in July 2014 before his deal was made permanent two months later after three games, two goals and one injury.

At best, he was alright. While his Tony Yeboah-esque volley will live long in the memory, so will his participation in the Sicknote Six who refused to play for Neil Redfearn at Charlton.

81. Zan Benedicic

Young attacking midfielders arriving from AC Milan to play under Dave Hockaday came as quite the surprise in 2014.

Sadly after only two brief appearances he suffered a knee injury and seemed to spend most of his time with Massimo Cellino’s daughter, Eleonora.

Benedicic, not Hockaday, that is.

82. Giuseppe Bellusci

Certainly not the least talented footballer Leeds have signed on loan, Bellusci left the club safe in the knowledge he became the most loathed.

All the worst parts of Cellino’s ownership summed up in in a centre-back who defends less like Paolo Maldini and more like Paul O’Grady.

83. Adryan

Leeds went to a great deal of effort to sign Adryan, who arrived amid fanfare at the prospect of signing a Brazilian attacking midfielder who was also really good on FIFA.

There were a couple of early flashes of ‘bloody hell’ at a Brazilian player doing Brazilian things with a football in England’s second tier, but then there was that dive against Derby, and then a couple of anonymous performances, and then we all accepted the sad truth: this isn’t going to work.

84. Dario Del Fabro

Dario Del Fabro. Dario. Del Fabro. Dario. Del. Fabro. If that’s not the name of a classy Italian defender, then what is?

Given he only ever played once for Leeds, we’ll probably never know.

85. Brian Montenegro

I accidentally left this section blank at first, which would have been an appropriate way of explaining a substitute appearance in a defeat to Wolves and a start in a defeat at Sunderland.

86. Sol Bamba

Spoke out against Massimo Cellino’s bullsh*t, got steaming drunk at the awards do and sang Marching On Together with supporters, scored a screamer.

Yeah, he fits the narrative of centre-backs who couldn’t replicate their loan form once signed permanently, but just look at his smile. Nobody in the current squad smiles like that.

Oh, and he also tried to chin Neil Warnock even though he was his own manager.

Build a statue.

87. Granddi N’Goyi

Not convinced he ever existed, part IV.

88. Edgar Cani

F*ck me, the Massimo Cellino years were bleak.

89. Tom Adeyemi

Seemed like a useful player when he joined under Uwe Rosler. Disappeared once Rosler was replaced by Steve Evans.

90. Will Buckley

Show me a man who can tell me anything about Will Buckley’s loan spell at Leeds in 2015 and I will show you a liar.

91. Liam Bridcutt

Apparently he captained Leeds United.

92. Mustapha Carayol

Steve Evans’ winger. We’ve come a long way.

93. Kyle Bartley

Finally, a defender with a bit of character and resilience. We’d have had him back in a heartbeat. It will be nice to see him in the Premier League next season.

94. Hadi Sacko

Good value on Twitter, less so on the pitch. Sometimes it was quite useful that he never knew what he was going to do as it meant the opposition never knew what he was going to do.

Sadly, we knew he was probably going to do something rubbish.

95. Matt Grimes

Garry Monk did get a few things right as Leeds manager. Signing Grimes, however, was not one of them.

96. Pablo Hernandez

The best player I’ve ever seen play for Leeds. My hero. A man who deserves promotion more than any other at Elland Road.

97. Pontus Jansson

Look, he was really, really good. Those glory days when you could throw a brick at him and he’d head the f*cker back were joyous.

But, let’s face it, he’s also a bit of a d*ckhead. An ego that outweighed his talent (don’t get me started on that head ‘injury’ at Preston) meant he was never going to last under Marcelo Bielsa.

My DMs are open, in case he’s still wondering how Leeds are handling the pressure. Turns out it’s not as easy as it looks, eh Pontus?

98. Alfonso Pedraza

Ooh, this was interesting. An obvious touch of class, a nice beard, an option to join permanently in an £8.5million deal if we got promoted – this could have been glorious.

Given Pedraza was a 20-year-old with no experience of English football at a time when Leeds needed proven quality, put him down as the right signing at the wrong time. He’s got ‘£12million transfer to Watford’ written all over him.

99. Mo Barrow

A Garry Monk signing involving agent James Featherstone? Nothing to see here.

100. Matthew Pennington

Watching Pennington get pushed over by a bigger boy to concede a stoppage-time winner against Sheffield Wednesday during a March blizzard was one of the bleakest moments of my life.

His career since hasn’t been much better.

READ: A forensic analysis of Wigan Athletic’s 8 (eight) goals against Hull City

101. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

A left-back from Manchester United. It’s hard to think of much worse.

102. Pierre-Michel Lasogga

Look, he couldn’t run, and before you even start, his lungs would burst into a thousand pieces if he played under Marcelo Bielsa, but it was completely worth it for that video of the fan shouting, “Lasogga, get in the box you fat c*nt,” just as he spanked one in against Millwall.

103. Lewis Baker

Saw him play at Guiseley in a pre-season friendly and you could tell he thought that he was better than that. He wasn’t.

Chelsea waster.

104. Jamal Blackman

It’s quite endearing how Marcelo Bielsa starts saying he was just about to play someone once they become unavailable. Two League Cup appearances and a broken leg.

Chelsea waster.

105. Jack Harrison

That first season was a bit awkward, really, but he deserves immense credit for working hard to improve enormously in his second. Whatever the occasional frustrations about his end product, you could watch him control a football all day.

106. Izzy Brown

His first touch for Leeds saw him get hit in the face by the ball in a nine-minute cameo at QPR in which he was also lucky not to receive a second yellow card. His only other appearance was a two-minute cameo in the play-off to defeat to Derby in which he shanked a free-kick into the Kop.

Chelsea waster.

107. Ben White

Outrageously good. Stop waffling on about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, Andrea, and just give Brighton whatever they want for this gem.

108. Jack Clarke

He really could be anything, and by that I mean it would be no surprise to see him either in the England squad or playing in League One in a few years’ time. Whatever you do, just stay off the Red Bull, Jack.

109. Helder Costa

He’s been alright, hasn’t he? Having seen Jack Harrison’s development in a second campaign under Bielsa, part of me thinks Costa might be a cheeky shout for Player of the Year next season. He’ll probably just be fine again.

110. Ilan Meslier

Better than a shit racist the other goalkeeper.

111. Eddie Nketiah

It’s a shame about that twisted bollock, but just because you’re good enough to start for Arsenal in 2020 doesn’t mean you’re good enough to start for Leeds.

112. Jean-Kevin Augustin

And so here we are, 16 years and 112 loans later, returning to the Premier League amid a legal dispute with a glorified drinks company, trying to avoid paying £18million to permanently sign a striker we all thought was going to be brilliant but turned out to be a flop.

Never, ever change, Leeds, you beautiful lunatics.

By Rob Conlon

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