Victor Orta lifts lid on 'weekly' Leeds United complaints after 'falling in love' at Elland Road

Victor Orta does not need reminding of the demands required at Leeds United – he receives a gentle nudge every week.

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 8:50 am
Leeds United sporting director with Gaetano Berardi at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

Elland Road’s sporting director has become somewhat of a cult hero figure in recent times across the city.

The Spaniard helped lure world-renowned head coach Marcelo Bielsa to West Yorkshire and then began work on building a squad fit for Premier League football.

Orta’s initial season in LS11 came with bumps and criticism. His dabbles into the transfer market were largely European experiments – some paid off while others didn’t – and two managers came and went.

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Lessons were learned and four years on from his arrival along with Andrea Radrizzani in 2017 there has been more good than bad.

A near £100m spending spree last summer following the club’s long-awaited promotion back to the top flight after 16 years away helped his cause, as has the success of those he acquired.

Brazilian winger Raphinha was perhaps the best of the bunch, so much so that the summer rumour mill over his Whites future has already kicked into overdrive.

Orta, though, is kept humble by those around him at Leeds – and not least by the local postman, who delivers some harsh realities on a weekly basis no matter the recent on-pitch upward curve.

“I’ve fallen in love with Leeds,” Orta told OneFootball of his time at the club.

“I knew their history and tradition from the outside, but without being here you can never truly understand the magnitude of this club.

“I feel very proud to have worked with some big clubs in the past.

“For example Sevilla, who completely changed my career, and then Real Valladolid, Elche, Zenit St Petersburg – but I’ve fallen in love with Leeds and the passion here.

“You can feel everything you do with the fans – in a good and bad way. I receive letters of complaint every week, even now, but I love that level of determination to improve. Consistency is the most difficult thing to achieve in football and we’ve had two brilliant seasons in a row.

“When coming into the Premier League, the numbers can be scary when you look at how often promoted teams face relegation again. But we’ve tried to build a foundation around sustainability, which has helped us reach new levels.

“More importantly we’ve succeeded with our own style, with hard work and graft.”

Orta was often seen as a source of frustration for the club’s supporters in his early days.

Similarly, striker and 2018 marquee summer signing Patrick Bamford came in for criticism among the fans in the Championship for not always being as clinical as he should in front of goal.

Both, though, have now proved their doubters wrong, so to speak.

Orta – with the help of Bielsa – has taken Leeds from the middle of the Championship to the top half of the Premier League while Bamford is currently reflecting on a 17-goal season in the top flight.

“You know what? I feel really upset,” Orta joked.

“Because in the past, if something bad happened the blame would be 50 per cent Victor Orta and 50 per cent Patrick Bamford – but now I’m taking 100 per cent [of the blame].

“He [Bamford] deserves this moment because when you work hard through difficult moments, taking criticism and judgements along the way it’s not easy, but I always felt that he believed in his talent.

“I feel really happy for him, for his family, for his environment, and now he can truly enjoy the good moments knowing he has beaten some difficult ones.”

Asked about his scouting network, he added: “We believe in a methodology and a style of football that makes our work in the scouting department much easier.

“I prefer my team to be watching 200 players instead of 2000. I think in terms of what we did last summer – we are extremely happy.

“We consider ourselves lucky because we didn’t just sign talented players, we signed great guys, amazing people for the dressing room who arrived and respected the traditions of this club.”