Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani made some headlines this week, after calling out his players publicly for poor play. Radrizzani had previously made headlines last week for publicly questioning Wolverhampton’s relationship with football agent Jorge Mendes, and when pressed into explaining his position, Radrizzani also turned his ire against his players.
Radrizzani appeared on talkSPORT on Tuesday, and when pressed to explain how the team had gone from being top of the table in September to out of the playoffs in February, Radrizzani said:
We gave them everything possible to focus on the football. As a club we support them with everything, we gave them long-term contracts, we support them going to a mid-season camp in Spain, we did everything they wanted but we didn’t get back their commitment, their passion, the spirit, particularly in the most important game we played very poorly against Middlesbrough away.
For me it was the bottom of the season because there was no commitment, no passion, no spirit. I don’t want players in my team and representing Leeds United with this behaviour. I hope they can learn and be with me next year, playing better with more commitment
Heckingbottom on Radrizzani's comments: "The players have been fine, Part and parcel of being in this game is people commenting on who you're doing. The owner's put his money in and has every right to say what he thinks it right. The players know that." #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 15, 2018
Paul Heckingbottom, the new Leeds head coach who was signed in early February, was praised by Radrizzani in his interview, was asked about the owner’s words in today’s press conference, and Heckingbottom seemed to handle the question pretty well, telling reporters that the players are fully aware of what the owner has said and are taking everything in stride.
In truth, it shouldn’t take the owner calling out players in general on the radio for the players to know that the team is doing poorly and changes will likely be made. Bailey Peacock-Farrell has made a claim to the starting goalkeeper position after both Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan failed to establish themselves as starting keepers. Many other players, who received long contracts last autumn, have also gone missing during the current slide down the table.
None of what Radrizzani said should be news to any of the players because this season has not gone to plan. And with nine games left and with both promotion and relegation both not a possibilty, the players should already be playing to justify being at Elland Road next season. It shouldn’t take the owner talking to the press to motivate the players.