Leeds United: It’s time the players showed character – Ritchie

Leeds United's Matt Smith loses out on a header with Bournemouth's Tommy Elphick.
Leeds United's Matt Smith loses out on a header with Bournemouth's Tommy Elphick.
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Former Leeds United player Andy Ritchie answers your Whites questions.

REGARDLESS of all the talk about wages, the players should be ashamed for what happened at Bournemouth – there’s been far too many of those this season.

First of all, fans are entitled to have a go. They pay good money to watch their side and that gives them the right.

Criticism should never get personal. But the players need to be giving more back.

I don’t know how much, but the off-the-field situation must be affecting the players with everything that has been going on. They will be worried about payments and stuff like that.

But as a player, you just have to get on with it and hope it will get sorted out.

Their performances have been up and down all season. But you can’t say it’s all to do with what has been going on.

I know it’s a cliche, but the players have just got to roll their sleeves and up and say: ‘We’re in a bad way, let’s get on with it.’

Sometimes, sheer effort gets you something and the Leeds crowd will be with them if they do that.

When I played, I have got to say that maybe the players were mentally tougher.

It doesn’t seem like that as much these days.

Whether that is because of way they have been brought through the system, I don’t know. You aren’t allowed to give them a kick up the backside or swear at them.

You also don’t see people rollicking their team-mates and giving them a volley on the pitch. I see some games and think: ‘I would have got an absolute telling-off if I did that’. Not only from the staff, but from my own team-mates. That certainly toughened me up.

Now it’s as if you can’t say anything or else it will get players upset.

It’s a man’s world and a physical game.

Leeds players have got to show some character, inward pride and dig deep. They are representing a great football club.

You must say: ‘Right, come on.’ You aren’t just playing for the fans and the club, but there’s personal pride. That was always one of the biggest motivators for me.

I didn’t want to have to come off the pitch with people saying: ‘Oh, he was rubbish today.’

I wanted people to say: ‘He played well or scored a good goal.

Looking at Leeds, when they have had bad days, they have had bad days this season. That can be mental toughness as well.

It has to come from the players on the pitch. Not from the manager.

Before I sign off can I extend my congratulations to Phil Beeton for attending his consecutive 2,000th game as a Leeds fan.

I know Phil well and he’s well deserving of the accolades.

Leeds face battle to keep Ross

Andy, surely with everything that is going on, Ross McCormack will be off in the summer – what’s your view?

It certainly looks like it will be one of the issues, if the club don’t sort themselves out in terms of ownership and a buyer.

I’d think it could be a big possibility as it stands.

Ross’ goals have been fantastic. Although I have also got to say will people also be looking at Matt Smith?

He’s got something like 11 goals and managers might be thinking he is worth a punt.

Looking at Leeds, where would they be without McCormack and Smith’s goals? They’d be close to relegation possibly.

Fair play to Matt. His haul is a very decent one considering it’s not as if he has played every game in his first season at the club and in the Championship.

Ross has been terrific. If Leeds were more consistent, he’d be close to 30 goals. Although his is a fantastic haul.

He has been the shining light and it will be a major, major battle to keep him and I do think there will be bids back in for him in the summer.

The only good thing is that Leeds have got him on a long-term deal, so they don’t necessarily have to sell him off on the cheap. Let’s hope they don’t.

The club aren’t in a great position at the minute though are they and my sympathies are with the fans, staff and Brian McDermott

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