Yesterday we started our new Top Fives series with a look at the best signings since Leeds were relegated from The Premier League. Both The Scratching Shed and the fans decided that Gary McAllister made the best singing for Leeds when he brought Robert Snodgrass in from Livingston. But who made the worst?

In a period where Leeds United have seen many more downs than they have ups, the list of contenders was a long one, but here’s the five we came up with, followed by a chance for you to tell us who you thought was the biggest failure.

5. Stephen Crainey

The subject of much ridicule throughout his time at Elland Road, Stephen Crainey arrived as Leeds’ first cash signing since relegation from the Premier League going on to spend three pretty dismal years with the club.

Stephen Crainey was so bad that even the hopelessly inadequate Armando Sá managed to keep him out of Dennis Wise’s side, as did American midfielder Eddie Lewis who was played out of position.

4. Enoch Showunmi

Two league goals in two years was the total contribution provided by the clumsy and altogether useless centre forward.

With a first touch that was only bettered by the hopelessness of his finishing, the Leeds fans lightened the mood of his arrival with a song honouring his famously well endowed gentlemen’s region.

Rumoured to have killed a member of his opposite sex during a poorly advised attempt to reproduce, Enoch’s notoriety precedes him. Unfortunately, so too did his footballing ability and few Leeds fans were surprised when his transfer failed to pay off.

3. Jermaine Wright

No one is entirely sure how Jermaine Wright managed to blag 38 chances to impress the Leeds United faithful, but his impressive record stands testament to the old ‘follow your dreams’ philosophy. Clearly, there’s always someone out there ready to help you fulfil them regardless of how useless you may be.

After two years of failing to impress anyone at Elland Road, Wright’s contract was cancelled by mutual consent much to the delight of everyone who had suffered through his 38 appearances. Struggling to remember him? Count yourself lucky…

2. Michael Ricketts

Journeyman striker Michael Ricketts spent two years trying to do his job at Elland Road, failing miserably for the entire duration.

Simple folk like myself expect certain things from players. Defenders should be able to tackle, midfielders should be able to pass, wingers should be able to cross and strikers should be able to score goals. Ricketts, who fits into the last of these categories had twenty five chances to fulfil his job description at Leeds, never managing to find the back of the net once.

After Leeds tried desperately to offload him onto someone else through the loan market, Ricketts finally left for good at the end of the 2005-06 season, going on to join Southend. There he managed two appearances before the seaside club realised he was not only overrated, but massively overweight.

1. Kevin Nicholls

The award for the worst Leeds United signing since our relegation goes to Kevin Blackwell – rather unsurprisingly some might say – for his capture of the horrible Kevin Nicholls.

Joining Leeds United for £700,000 in July 2006, Nicholls spent much of his early Leeds career in the treatment room where new manager Dennis Wise found him hurling abuse at random passers-by and awarded him the club captaincy.

He returned in his new role as club captain and thanked Dennis Wise by getting himself sent off during the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town. After only a handful of further appearances, Nicholls was dropped from the team and stripped of his captaincy after it was revealed he had demanded a transfer back to Luton Town.

An embarrassed Dennis Wise stubbornly refused to let the horrible Nicholls leave unless Luton could come up with the money Leeds had paid for him. After they failed to do so, Preston North End coughed up and he left Elland Road to join them.

Not satisfied with failing to get his own way, Nicholls quickly managed to swindle his way back onto the transfer list and joined Luton Town at the end of the 2007-08 campaign where he has been described as a “legend” and “arguably the club’s best ever captain”.

Notable absences

Compiling this list was a bit of a mammoth task given the sheer volume of contenders there was to choose from. Some of these players were excluded due to the nature of their contract – ie. they were loan players rather than transfers, or were only here short term like Paul Dickov. Others were omitted purely because I felt there were worse alternatives, but it’s all subjective and you’re more than welcome to add your own opinions below.

Disagree? Who do you think was Leeds’ worst post-Prem transfer?

Can Leeds United reach the play-offs?

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59 Responses

  1. kevin clifford

    i think mine must be the dreadful sighing of thomas brolin with the money we spent on him at the time and he delivered very little. and he left the club with his tail between his legs 2\10

    • Craig Noteboom

      Tomas Brolin was signed years ago while we were in Prem. The article is call “worst signings since we were relegated from prem”

  2. Ben Pugh

    IMHO in think crainey should be number 1.I watched him a few seasons back in a reserves game against shrewsbury town and it was the worst footballing performance i have ever had the misfortune of experiencing.

  3. Jez

    Got to agree with Nichols. He wasn’t the worst player we had in the post-prem years (Roque? Enoch? Tres? Bessone?) but as a nasty, two-faced, poisonous piece of work he was definitely the worst of the lot.

    Kevin in the post above – it’s about the years SINCE the Prem, not ever. But yeah, he was the pits!

    • Yeast

      Likewise mate
      i believe roque (junior) was premiership era if my memory serves me correctly

  4. eddie


    • TSS

      Poor error on my part. Nearly as bad as calling Livingston, Liverstone (I changed that one earlier)

  5. Mightywhite83

    Peter Sweeney… Da costa…gregan…Weston…cademateri…elding??

    • Gustavo

      leon constantine, liam dickinson, Gary McSheffrey, curtis weston, Darren Kenton, Sebastian Sorsa & others

  6. Tyke Harvey

    Livermore, didnt actually last that long at the club I believe it was no more than 10 days

  7. Chicago White

    Has to be Nichols other notables Paul Telfer, Butler, Gregan, Lucas, Capaldi, Bessone (could be), DaCosta the list is almost endless. In defense of Livermore it was hardly his problem he was brought in by Lackwell and then he decided that Nichols was better.

  8. darrell burnett

    Someone just beat me to David Livermore so how abour Sebastian Sorsa?

  9. darrell burnett

    I would add Neil Collins to this list because we had an opportunity to ‘try him before we bought him’. He was average in the 3rd division then we paid significant money for him.
    Oh and dont get me started on Bessone


    Mcsheffrey? I know it was only a short loan but he was awful for an ex-premiership player.

  11. Gryff

    I’d go:

    1. Crainey
    2/3. Gregan/Nicholls
    4/5. Ricketts/Showunmi.

    Special award for Neil Kilkenny? He’s been abjectly poor for us for too long. Now that he has some competition he’s pulling his finger out, but that makes him even worse in my book!

  12. darrell burnett

    Last minute winner away at Oldham wiping out the -15 must keep Ian Westlake off the list but I can’t remember anything else of his time at Leeds except that I once heard that he is very good at swimming

  13. Max.

    Dennis Wise, by some distance.

    Players: Butler and Gregan would be on my list.

  14. darrell burnett

    Geoff Horsefield aaaaaaagh
    Hayden Foxe
    Kishishev, this is so much easier than thinking of our 5 best signings

  15. ash

    i know we are talking about players since relagation, but……. jacob burns was fucking shite aswell

  16. CJ

    worst player ever has to be Sean Gregan. The way Blackwell talked him up, you would have thought we were signing Zidane!!! Ps. 2nd worst signing has to be Austrailian midfielder JOEL GRIFFITHS. It took months to sort out his work visa. When he finally arrived he was totally crap & 4 stones over-weight!! He played aprox 2 games before we showed him the door. Good Riddance!!!

  17. ash

    gylfi einarsson, matthew spring, alan sheehan, ian westlake, matt heath, jamie clapham, flo trying to think of more

  18. Dje

    I refused to vote as yet as I’m sure through approximately six years of utter dross, disappointment and relegations, we heralded an even more deplorable player than those mentioned so far.

    Keep ‘em coming lads ~ there’s still something lurking at the bottom of the barrel, I’m sure.

  19. Will

    Every era has duff players so this recent era has been no different.

    Stephen Crainey has actually more than proved himself at Blackpool this season and from what I’ve seen he has been impressive down their left side. Probably this just goes to show how exceptionlly crap a manager Blackwell was (and still is – where is he now?)

    Buying players is risky, but you’ve certainly got to question what our respective managers were smoking on buying these arrivals in the 1980s:

    Andy Watson
    John Donnelly
    Brian Caswell
    David Rennie
    Ronnie Robinson
    George McCluskey
    Gary Hamson (1979)
    Russell Doig

    But I guess Ricketts beats them all!

  20. Peter T

    Showumni at least tried unlike many on the list
    Ricketts Nicholls must be near the top
    Think you should exclude loanees as manay have been short term like Trundle Liam Dickinson etc

    Do you include managers Wise and Blackwell must be high on most people hate list

  21. Jody Jones

    Not a member of Leeds top 5, but does anyone remember a “player” called Ali Dia (?), apparently coming with a ringing endorsement from his “cousin” George Weah, he played about 15mins against us in the 90s for Southampton when Graeme Souness was duped into playing him without seeing him first…

  22. Bradley Lomas

    It says something, when i struggled to remember most of those names people said.

    It’s either early memory loss for me, or they’re just appalling players. I’ll go for the latter.

  23. AussieWhite

    Wow! I was just talking the other day about the time that Souness bought a player based on a video he had been sent which claimed he was related to George Weah and subbing him once he realised how shite he was.

  24. tony bateson

    surely it s all relative to transfer fee,contract signed,wages we must have parted with etc..

    if we discuss fees paid signings… surely ian westlake..rumoured to be £800k plus leeds-fan dan harding who s still playing well now,years later,and for who we d paid £1.75 million …..

    that s not to say i do owe him some gratitude…i took my 2 young sons to their 1st ever away game at oldham..appalling match,but a life-long fantastic memory of a superb,injury time screamer winner right in front of all the magnificent leeds fans.. and the sight of my youngest flying down the stairs in the stand to confront oldham fans in sheer ‘we are leeds’ delight..2 life long fans were born,the mantle duly passed on from father to sons,the total lufc devotion confirmed…as our always-superb away following roared!!

    as for free transfers on massive wages we couldn t afford….andy robinson, steve stone,alan thompson,tore-andre would take some beating i suspect…

    and,very finally,yes blackwell was a disaster as manager…wise not too far behind after the obvious brains,coaching expert-poyet-left for money to spurs… but grayson s signings record,whether loans or permanent,or even the lack of signings at very key times last season and this,leaves a lot to be desired…and may well cost us a premier league return,as it nearly cost us promotion last season,achieved mainly thanks to our competitors blowing up at the final stages of what should have been a cakewalk for us,given our position in the january,prior to beating scum…the incredibly obvious need for defensive midfielder has been evident for 2 years,but still we don t have one somehow..and the need for a commanding centre half also,after the quite superb paddy was crocked….not to mention,why the hell we are paying the awful,very average,always-outta-position mccartney premier league wages,while our own very promising,pacy youngster,aidan white was given little chance and is now keeping oldham high up in league 1..?????

  25. Paul Cranswick

    Crap team comes to mind:
    Lucas – Assoumani, Gregan, Collins, Crainey – Nicholls, Westlake, – Sorsa, Cadermateri, Constantine, Griffiths

    Boy that team could have lost a few games!

    Team of excellent buys:
    Schmeichel – Lichaj, Marques, Kisnorbo, Lewis – Derry, Kilkenny – Snodgrass, Beckford, Becchio, Gradel

    • lorimerhotshot

      Which reminds me. Why was Marques let go?
      Must have been because of our great strength in depth in centre-backs – i.e. Kis and Marques and, er…

  26. Paddy1992

    Graham stack has got to be in goal. Wises little bum boy came and was terrible.

  27. mike

    Looking at all the crap we have had in a white shirt its no wonder we have been out of the top flight more than we have been in it.

    Hopefully in 10 games that will never be an issue ever again

  28. Matt BB

    @TSS suggestion for another debate on these lines – which manager has made best / worst signings, Gary Mac getting lots of nods for signing Snodgrass and Becchio, But he also signed Showunmi, and what about Poor old Kevin Blackwell, he gets a lot of abuse but he signed Beckford!

  29. Southern White

    Kevin Nicholls was a idiot and was an embarressment to the white shirt. I did have the pleasure of watching him for Luton at Bournemouth couple of years ago where i did manage to remind him for the whole of the 60 mins or so he was stood out there how useless he was, cheered both his booking and even louded when he was finally subbed. What a complete waste of a footballer!!!!!!!!!

  30. Irving08

    Worst signings – relative to potential significance: Robinson; Gregan; Wright; Nicholls; Collins. They all came with hype, occupied key positions and never delivered. Players such as Enoch don’t count, since they were obvious punts. NOhting really hung on ther success or failure unlike the infamous five listed above.

  31. Craig Noteboom

    There were so many shit signings some of which I totally forgot about. But no one has mentioned Jullian Joachim. He was wank. Going back to Dennis the bog eyed little cockney twat wise, did he actually sign any decent players. Only one that springs to mind is Bradley Johnson and I know some fans will disagree with me on that one. I do think that Gary Mac has made some of the best signings at the club since we went down. Perhaps we should have signed him as chief scout rather than manager.

  32. Chareose

    I thought showunmi was an ok player, he looked lively in the few appearances he was allowed to play.

    I hope Bannan is a success, our success seems to be tied to diminutive scottish midfeilders……but its also disheartening to think we are just blooding a player who Villa are unlikely to ever let go, certainly not for the 10bob that Ken Bates would offer should we get promotion

    • Irving08

      You’re right – 6 goals in 7 starts, wasn’t it ? Here’s one to outrage the Beccchio fan club – had Enoch been persisted with like Becchio has been,, he might well have turned out as good , if not the better player – he had a lighter touch, as it was.

  33. west stand rebel

    Pre premier league I’m afraid but anyone remember John Faulkner signed from Sutton United after we played them in an FA Cup match around about 1970. His debut saw him score two own goals and give away a penalty. I believe he broke a leg shortly afterwards.

    • Craig Noteboom

      Sorry I must have overlooked that one. To be honest I thought more people might have mentioned him. That entire team we had in our first season in championship was dog shit with the exception of Gary Kelly, Lucas Radebe and Neil Sullivan

  34. Paddy1992

    I know he wasn’t a signing as such but grazer Richardson was wank too. Irritated the shit out of me that Leeds fans loved him for his ‘attacking ability’ all I saw was head down run and cross into south stand or kop. Utter shite and captains my worse Leeds side.

  35. Cian McNevin

    dis is d prem but Roque Junior has 2 b there sumwhere. but after d prem has 2 b Michael Ricketts

  36. number1inyorkshire

    to be honest i think Kevin Nichol is ahead in the poll because of what he said rather than his footballing attributes .
    he was captain of our team remember ,he wasn’t a bad footballer either ,you have to say something got his goat and to be fair he did something about it .

    we have turned many a decent player into ordinary ones just through the sheer weight of expectation .

    if you have to say bad signings one that arguably cost us lots of points and alright saved 1 or 2 so just for inconsistency Casper ankergren .

  37. Dewi Powell

    I’m gunna be slated for saying it but I’ll always appreciate Craney. He didn’t play well for us by any stretch of the imagination but I used to watch his breaking his balls for the team and David Healy spending a lot of time being a lazy shite for 90 minutes.

  38. charedblack

    Joel Griffiths – Worst player to ever wear the Leeds shirt, making him the worst player since the Premier League! Sooking, overweight, nobish, tool who was a pathetic excuse for human being let alone before we start talking about his footballing ability! The guy could hardly play in the a-league, which should show you something about his ability!


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