COMMENT By Richard Parks
Stuart Dallas is facing a fight to save his Leeds United career.
Owner Andrea Radrizzani made it clear that the underperforming senior players are firmly in his firing line after accusing them last week of letting the club down in an outspoken and brutal verdict of the shortcomings of the squad.
None should be more worried than Stuart Dallas, who epitomises the mediocrity of the first team regulars who have secured just a single win since Boxing Day as Leeds’ play-off hopes have been left in tatters and placed them bottom of the Championship form table for results in the second half of the season.
Handed a new three-year contract that was announced by the official Leeds website on 30 August of last year, it has been a mostly wretched campaign for the Northern Ireland international.
Dallas struggled for match time under ex-manager Thomas Christiansen, but has been a regular starter under new boss Heckingbottom.
It is unclear what the 26-year-old has done to deserve nine starts from the last 10 league matches, although the manager’s options were severely reduced by the absence of Samuel Saiz and Kemar Roofe for Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
In 27 matches in all competitions this season, Dallas has scored two goals and supplied a further two assists. Those are puny returns for an attacking midfielder whose job it is to create problems for opposition defences.
Radrizzani told talkSPORT in an explosive interview on the Jim White Show last Tuesday that he felt particularly angry with the players who were handed lucrative new contracts last year after he took over as sole owner of the club in May.
“We have given them everything possible to just focus on the football,” said the Leeds owner. “As a club we support them in everything – we gave them long-term contracts, we supported them going to a mid-season camp in Spain.
“We did everything they wanted, but we didn’t get back their commitment, passion and the spirit.”
Radrizzani did not name the players who were the subject of his ire, but it is clear that he was pointing the finger at the likes of Dallas.
The Ulsterman has the comfort and security of another two years on his contract. Even if he was to slip down the pecking order when Saiz and Roofe return, he has to be paid up until 2020, or sold this summer.
Radrizzani’s public attack was a thinly-veiled attempt to cajole improved performances from Dallas and company.
It did not reap immediate dividends, as the only conclusion to be drawn is that the former Brentford wide man is not good enough for a club of Leeds’ calibre and expectations.
He is in the battle of his life to save his United career.
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that the club have launched a bid to sign a Premier League centre-forward in the form of his life.