By Daniel Lewis

15th Oct, 2023 | 5:10pm

49ers Enterprises guilty of first poor Leeds United decision as Ilia Gruev flops again

If Ilia Gruev was hoping to put his Leeds United struggles to one side during his time with Bulgaria over the international break, that has not quite proved the case.

The 23-year-old has made just three substitute appearances for Leeds since arriving from Werder Bremen late on in the summer transfer window.

Those three appearances have totalled only four minutes on the field [FBref], which is easily the fewest of any United squad regular.

Rather damningly, even Sam Greenwood has played more minutes for Leeds this term (eight) and he was loaned out to Middlesbrough in August.

Daniel Farke has instead gone with Archie Gray and Ethan Ampadu in holding midfield, with Glen Kamara rotating into the side when needed.

Gruev would have hoped to use the international break to show Farke exactly what he is capable of from afar.

However, the midfielder came in for heavy criticism from his nation’s media after Bulgaria lost 2-0 to Lithuania on Saturday (14 October).

BTA singled out Gruev, stating on its online edition (14 October) that he “has no explanation as to the series of ridiculous losses and poor results”.

Gruev played on the left of a three-man defence, with that type of versatility possibly coming in handy for Farke.

But Bulgaria’s poor display against Lithuania in Sofia, which leaves them bottom of their Euro 2024 qualifying group, suggests he also failed that audition.

In a summer of high turnover at Elland Road in terms of transfer activity, the signing of Gruev seems to be the strangest signing of the lot.

49ers Enterprises have got plenty right since taking full control, but this is a signing – for now, at least – that they got wrong.

In other Leeds United news, the Whites are reportedly open to loan offers for a player in January.