Leeds United endured a miserable campaign in all honesty, as the club self-destructed to condemn them to relegation just three years after earning their triumphant return to the Premier League.

So much has changed at Elland Road since Marcelo Bielsa masterminded that promotion, and despite getting what they wanted by achieving this, Andrea Radrizzani's outfit are in a far worse situation now than they were then, without a manager, a plan or a committed ownership it seems, as his purchase of Sampdoria closes in.

Although many will turn to lambast the hierarchy for overseeing such a torrid term, it is hard to look past those on the pitch for the true villains who let the fans down yet again.

Last year marked a great escape from the drop, but they were not to be so lucky this time.

It is easy to turn to Jesse Marsch as the main factor for their failings, or perhaps take out frustrations on Patrick Bamford's profligacy at the key moments. However, Luke Ayling once again played a huge role in a season where relegation loomed throughout, and his poor showings only emphasise the need for a replacement to force him out of the club.

How did Luke Ayling play this season?

Having made himself a villain last campaign for his reckless red card in the run-in that led Jamie Carragher to brand him an "idiot", the 31-year-old had plenty of making up to do the season following.

However, with a 6.60 average rating, at the heart of a defence that shipped 78 goals, this was a failed venture. Even the added competition of Rasmus Kristensen was not enough to spur on some finer performances, as the Denmark international could only muster a 6.70 rating of his own in a troubling debut year.

He proved himself to once again be a defensive liability, with his lack of awareness and culpability showcased on many occasions. His 69% pass accuracy outlined him as someone unable to play out from the back, and he would make two errors leading to shots and commit one penalty too, via Sofascore.

However, what the statistics do not show is his laziness, with Tottenham Hotspur's opener last weekend made so easy because of his failure to simply track a runner.

This was not a sole occurrence too.

Journalist Tom Oladipo even suggested as recently as March that "Ayling has been awful for a long time", and yet he remained a mainstay under Marsch, then Javi Gracia, and even Sam Allardyce.

The £25k-per-week dud got lucky that his foolishness did not cost his team last year, but this season he was without a Raphinha-like figure to bail out his consistently underwhelming displays.

If Radrizzani is actually keen to propel his club out of the Championship with speed, he must ensure that Sunday marked Ayling's final game in a Leeds shirt. He can no longer be trusted in that back four.

2023-06-01T19:41:06Z dg43tfdfdgfd