Those American Spelling Bees really get on my wick. Precocious kids up there, driven by maniacally woggle-eyed parents with heaving guts and over-made-up faces, stand there and reel off spellings of words that they’ll never use…ever.
“Does it come from a Greek root?” these little chiddikins ask? Who cares, you and your awkwardly placed spectacles and asthma-induced lisp likely don’t. A round-robin of spell-offs sees you advance round-by-round towards a one-to-one, mano-a-mano face-off against an equally awkward opponent.
As both rattle through obscure and archaic words in order to find out just who is top spelling dawg, their parents sit there sweating like a proverbial pig. Their eccrine glands in full dilation and seeping perspiration as fat hands waft what look like melting faces before one small and precocious child fails to spell the word feldenkrais, gesellschaft, marocain or scerenschnitte correctly.
I excrete you not, those are actual words, spelled by actual kids, in an actual spelling bee – the Scripps National Spelling Bee; making precocious children since 1925. You may have figured that I do not like them one iota.
I want to see Spelling Bees with people like Donald Trump thrown up there spouting words like covfefe and believing them to be real words. I want to see that like I want to see separate Olympics for clean athletes and those roided up to their ears. Imagine a drug-fuelled 100 metre race, or a javelin competition where NASA have to do the measurements and no-one within five zip codes is safe from being impaled.
Leeds United fans would be awful at spelling bees, truly awful. Why? Because they’d argue that you can’t spell the word ‘magician’ because it doesn’t contain all the letters from S…A…I…Z.
Samu Sáiz – el mago español
The headline figures tell their own story: five goals and four assists. All this from a player who many Leeds fans had never heard of before he was brought in to the club from Spanish La Liga 2 side SD Huesca. It was a combination of his goals and assists that drove Huesca to the La Liga 2 playoffs that caught the Orta eye at Elland Road. 12 goals and eight assists were the currency what brought him to West Yorkshire, and it is more than his goal contribution that is paying dividends at Elland Road.
Take away the goals and assists, strip those away and look at his performances. Doing that allows you to see a different kind of player, one who the Elland Road faithful have been calling out for across the last few seasons. After seeing players like Adryan and Alex Mowatt attempting to play where Saiz plays, Leeds United have their own, bonafide secondary striker or #10 to play the slot behind a lone striker.
Saiz has a low centre of gravity and a foot whose boot seems to be coated with Solvite, such is the control that he has over the ball. Tricks, flicks, turns and neat passes are the benchmark that Leeds United fans have come to expect from the diminutive Spanish wizard.
The following stats are merely an indication of what output the diminutive Spanish maestro demonstrates over the course of a typical 90 minute match period. It also includes a graphic from Leeds United fan and stats man Chris Taylor (@LUFCDATA)
Samu Sáiz – the headline figures (per 90 minutes)
- 35.1 passes attempted with 27.2 passes completed (77.6% accuracy)
- 2.4 accurate key passes – pass leading to team chance (8.5% of completed passes)
- 2.6 shots attempted (1.5 out of box/0.1 six yard box/1 18 yard box)
- 0.9 on-target shots from 2.6 attempts (34.6% accuracy)
- 5 goals from 14 on-target shots (35.7% conversion rate)
- 3.4 dribbles attempted with 2 completed (58.8% success rate)
- 5.5 bad touches (2.9 bad control/2.6 tackled)
- 2.5 fouls suffered
5 goals ⚽
4 assists 🎯
3rd-most chances created in the division ⚡
— Chris Taylor (@LUFCDATA) November 27, 2017
Verdict of sorts
Let’s be honest, Samu Sáiz is an indispensible member of the Leeds United set-up at the moment. His skill set is what the fans have been crying out for for many a season now. He came with a footballing pedigree that was shaped in its initial stages at Real and Atletico Madrid, honed with loan deals and sharpened even more last season at SD Huesca – the end result being the 12 goals and eight assists that he ended Huesca’s La Liga 2 campaign with.
Astute eyes from Victor Orta have seen his fellow Spaniard sign on at Elland Road, and how the fans are loving him. After a début hat-trick versus Port Vale in a Carabao Cup game. After that sparkling début, Sáiz took to Twitter and mentioned the feelings he received from the crowd.
— Samuel Sáiz Alonso (@Samusaiz) August 9, 2017
If that was “just the beginning”, as Sáiz says it was, then Leeds United fans are watching something special develop. It will be interesting to see how far this one goes, especially now that el mago español is rapidly becoming the hub of the side.