Leeds United: Bielsa brands players’ pick Cooper a ‘great captain’

MARCELO BIELSA has let Leeds United’s players decide who should wear the skipper’s armband with the head coach labelling Liam Cooper as a “great captain” to lead the Whites.

Centre-back Cooper donned the captain’s armband for both former head coaches Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom last term and the 26-year-old again led the side during Bielsa’s first game in charge last Sunday against Stoke City at Elland Road.

Leeds United's Liam Cooper (second right) celebrates scoring his side's third goal against Stoke.

Leeds United's Liam Cooper (second right) celebrates scoring his side's third goal against Stoke.

Cooper scored United’s third goal of the game with a header from a Barry Douglas corner as the Whites recorded an impressive 3-1 victory with the former Hull City player partnering Gaetano Berardi at the centre of defence.

Berardi himself has been another United player to have worn the captain’s armband when Cooper has been injured or suspended, with right-back Luke Ayling and midfielder Pablo Hernandez others to have donned the skipper’s armband.

Pressed on the importance of the captaincy, Bielsa insisted it should be the decision of United’s players who should captain the side and not his.

“The captain represents the footballers,” said Bielsa.

Marcelo Bielsa.

Marcelo Bielsa.

“I don’t choose the captain. From my point of view, the captain has to be chosen by the ones he will be representing.

“As an observer, I think he is a great captain but the most important point of view is the point of view of the players.”

Bielsa has also divulged the reasoning behind his lack of celebrations during last weekend’s thrilling victory against the Championship’s title favourites, Stoke.

The Argentinian remained a composed figure sitting on his fast-becoming legendary upside down blue bucket in front of the United dugout as the Elland Road crowds went wild every time Leeds netted against the Potters.

Liam Cooper celebrates his goal against Stoke.

Liam Cooper celebrates his goal against Stoke.

“What you celebrate is the victory more than the goals you score,” reasoned Bielsa.

“As a head coach I think I should celebrate privately not publicly. The ones that celebrate publicly should be the players and the fans.”

Asked why he opted to sit on a special bucket and not in the dugout, Bielsa explained: “I am surprised at the comments about it. It is comfortable and I can see more of the pitch compared to the dugout.”