Leeds United: Rosler to assess Byram’s state of mind

Sam ByramSam Byram
Sam Byram
Uwe Rosler will speak to Sam Byram tomorrow and ask for “honest feedback” about his frame of mind after Massimo Cellino’s outspoken attack on the Leeds United youngster.

Rosler said Byram needed “peace around him” in the wake of failed contract talks with Leeds and plans to discuss the situation with Byram before deciding whether to start him at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Byram has less than 12 months remaining on his contract at Elland Road and he looks destined to leave the club in January or at the end of this season after fractious and unsuccessful negotiations with Leeds.

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Cellino angered Byram’s camp last December by offering the 22-year-old a long extension on a reduced weekly wage and attempts to re-initiate discussions last month failed to move the two sides closer to an agreement.

Byram is understood to earn around £12,000 a week having agreed a three-year deal with Leeds’ previous owner, Gulf Finance House, in January 2013.

In an interview broadcast by Sky Sports on Tuesday, United’s owner criticised Byram openly, saying the player thought Leeds were “too small for him” and claiming he would rather “sign someone else” even if Byram relented and asked to sign a new deal.

Rosler admitted a fortnight ago that speculation about Byram’s future during the summer transfer window had affected his form for United but said he hoped the closure of the window would draw a line under the issue.

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Asked if Cellino’s remarks had increased pressure on Byram - United’s player of the year in 2013 - Rosler said: “I don’t want to comment on the interview, the timing or the context.

“I think in general Sam needs peace around him. That’s my agenda. He needs peace. I had many conversations with him throughout the summer because that was an underlying issue since I walked through the door.

“He’s a good lad, very understandable. I felt that with the transfer closed he can relax and know he’s a part of our club until the end of the season, hopefully for longer. But Sam needs peace and Sam needs talking to, reassurances. Sam also has to compete like everybody else in our team.”

Rosler has backed Byram throughout the early stages of the Championship season, starting him on the right wing in all but one of United’s league games.

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Byram’s position will come under renewed threat when winger Will Buckley joins Leeds on loan from Sunderland next week but Rosler has not ruled out the possibility of playing Byram at The Riverside on Sunday.

United’s head coach indicated that he was under no pressure from Cellino to leave Byram out, despite the bitter breakdown of contract negotiations.

Rosler said: “Since I walked through the door I made it absolutely clear that I’m a football coach and all my decisions are based on football. That’s what I keep myself to.

“I was given completely reassurance when I started my job that I’m responsible for managing and working my squad of players and staff members. Nothing has changed.

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“I’m not involved in any contract negotiations. I’m not involved in talks with agents. Adam Pearson (United’s former executive director who resigned last week) did that. Mr Cellino is doing it now.

“For me, I’m judging every player in the squad - including Sam - on what I see at weekends and what I see in the week. After those impressions, I select my team.

“I spoke to Sam on Wednesday. Tomorrow I will speak to him again and see where we are at.

“You’ll understand that when you speak to a player in private, that stays private. The player has to trust me. I’m searching for feedback and the player has to have the confidence to give me honest feedback. That’s where we are.”

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Byram is one of four academy products who are featuring heavily under Rosler this season, alongside Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor and Lewis Cook.

All three of those players are tied down to the end of the 2016-17 season. Cook most recently extended his contract by signing a new two-year deal in May.

Rosler said: “This club has a unique chance to build a future around young players. Sam Byram is one of those young players.

“I said from day one that the club tried everything to keep those players and build a team around them. It’s a great opportunity.”

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Rosler insisted again that his own relationship with Cellino - an owner who sacked four managers and head coaches in the space of 11 months before hiring Roser in May - remained strong.

“Mr Cellino and myself have always tried to build a good relationship,” Rosler said. “That is necessary.

“We have constructive discussions. Like you can imagine, we don’t always have the same opinion but we’re respecting each other and when we disagree, it stays in house. That is very important.

“It’s a special relationship. I have not had one in this way. It’s exciting and fascinating and I learn something every day. We have the same target and the same passion for where this club should be in two years.”