The signings of Jack Butland and Connor Wickham a few weeks ago looked set to give Leeds United the boost they needed to make a late surge for the play-offs. Instead the club's form has declined and it now looks as if they will have to settle for mid-table mediocrity again.
There have already been plenty of question marks over Brian McDermott's future at Elland Road and his former club dealt a further blow exactly one year after they had dismissed him from the Madejski Stadium.
A 5-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road on Saturday led to McDermott making five changes to that side. But it had no effect as Leeds succumbed to another heavy defeat. They were 4-0 down after 54 minutes, and although Matt Smith and Rodolph Austin pulled goals back Leeds could not mount an incredible come back.
Connor Wickham has failed to score in three games for Leeds, and what looked like a huge signing for the club is now under pressure.
Butland started well at Leeds, conceding just one goal in his first two games. However conceding nine goals in the next two have surely put paid to his chances of being on the plane to Brazil. Of course he did have a lot of competition for a place regardless. Joe Hart's place is confirmed whilst Fraser Forster, Ben Foster and John Ruddy along with Butland are battling for the two other spots.
Jack played a few games for Stoke earlier this season but this loan move gave him a chance to try and impress Roy Hodgson. It would have taken something extraordinary to be picked ahead of the aforementioned, but nevertheless he had his chance at a play-off chasing Championship club.
Regardless of how the goals are scored, conceding nine in two games is not going to look good in the run-in to the World Cup. As it goes however Jack Butland was at fault for the first goal. There was a communication mix-up between him and Jason Pearce following a Marius Zaliukas back-pass. They left it to each other, and eventually it was Gareth McCleary who picked it up and placed it into the open net.
Butland had little chance with the other goals and was caught out by Hal Robson-Kanu's angled shot. He should have another 12 games left for Leeds before returning to Stoke City.
Next year could be a big season for him if Asmir Begovic leaves The Potters. Butland would be handed his chance and perhaps then he can start getting called up to the England squad on a more regular basis.