Liam Cooper reveals brutal Leeds United relegation dressing room words and fitness admission

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Leeds United captain Liam Cooper says the message he delivered to any want-away players in the changing room at the end of last season still stands today.

Cooper addressed the squad in the immediate aftermath of relegation following an Elland Road defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and after what he admits has been a 'strange' summer he has now made those words public.

"After the Tottenham game last year when our fate was decided I was one to speak up in the changing room and I made it clear, if you don't want to be here next season - I won't repeat what I said, it was one of those," he said.

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"That's the way it's got to be. To play for this club you've got to invest in it, you've got to give your life for it and certainly those in the stands won't accept anything else apart from that. That was the message and the message is still the same. We need players who are invested."

STRONG WORDS: From Whites captain Liam Cooper. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.STRONG WORDS: From Whites captain Liam Cooper. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.
STRONG WORDS: From Whites captain Liam Cooper. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images.

Leeds have said farewell to several first team players since the transfer window opened, with post-relegation contract clauses kicking in to facilitate a number of loan exits and the permanent transfer of Rodrigo.

Although most of the goodbyes were expected, the latest has come as a particular disappointment for Leeds. Max Wober informed Farke and Cooper late last week that he wanted to leave and a season-long loan to Borussia Mönchengladbach is in the works.

Up until that point the Whites evidently had the impression that the Austrian international, who signed in January from RB Salzburg, would be one of those who was happy to remain. He returned for pre-season training following international duty and even wore the captain's armband in Cooper's absence in a behind closed doors friendly against Barnsley.

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Cooper's take is that Leeds cannot afford to tackle a Championship promotion battle with players who do not fully throw themselves into the cause.

"We've got a group of players now committed to the goal," he said. "We know what's expected of us, we know the expectations of the club and we've got to go embrace that and hit it head on. We all know what the Championship demands of each other, how committed you need to be and how hard it's going to be to get out of it. Anybody who thinks it's going to be a walk in the park or stroll then they've got a big shock coming. So that's the message to the boys."

Cooper started in Thursday night's 2-0 friendly win over Nottingham Forest at Burton and the side showed more signs that new boss Farke's philosophy is making an impact. Leeds will play a more patient, possession-based style under the German than some of the football played over the last 18 months or so. The captain welcomes it and the fitness levels that go hand-in-hand with it.

"I think we have the team and the players to do that and it suits us and our attributes a lot more," he said.

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"So the last two seasons we've sort of gone away from what made us good, in a sense. And there's no hiding about the fact that we've not been fit enough. You could see tonight, the options we had on the ball, the way we opened up a strong Premier League side who are very good against the ball. But we can't take too much out of it. It's pre-season and we've just got to keep improving. It's going to take a while to be our best and to hit the standards the boss wants, but small steps and small improvements and we can be the team and have the identity we want to have."