Leeds United head coach Uwe Rosler took the rare step of instructing his team to put pressure on match officials in key situations after falling foul of two contentious incidents at Middlesbrough.
Rosler claimed his side were guilty of being “too nice” and had suffered because of it in the wake of 3-0 defeat at The Riverside yesterday.
United’s boss was angered by referee Neil Swarbrick’s refusal to dismiss Boro forward Cristhian Stuani in the second half and frustrated further by the decision to disallowing a Mirco Antenucci strike for offside 10 minutes later.
Antenucci struck from close range in the 56th minute as Leeds fought to overturn a 2-0 deficit.
Assistant Scott Ledger appeared to have ruled the finish onside but moved to raise his flag after Boro’s players surrounded Swarbrick and prompted the official to clarify Ledger’s decision.
Asked if his players should have argued with the call by surrounding Swarbrick and Ledger themselves, Rosler said: “Yes. I told them that. From now on we will.
“We got told we are too nice and this is a great learning day for us.
“We need to be more ruthless. When you do it (by) the book and always be nice, you don’t get far in life sometimes. We should learn from this and we will.
“The key time in the game was clearly Stuani. Stuani should have been off the field. That and the ‘goal’ are the decisive moments.”
United’s defeat was their second of the season, leaving the club 14th in the Championship and four points from both the play-off positions and the relegation zone.
Rosler made a total of five changes to his team, leaving out an injured Chris Wood and replacing Liam Cooper, Sam Byram, Scott Wootton and Luke Murphy.
Byram’s omission was widely expected amid the recent breakdown of contract talks between him and United. Cooper’s omission, meanwhile, brought Giuseppe Bellusci into the team and a poor performance from the Italian, including the concession of an own goal in the first half, cost Leeds heavily.
Rosler was cryptic in explaining his selections afterwards, admitting that he had not planned to make so many alterations to his starting line-up on the back of a 2-1 win over MK Dons.
“Sometimes – and I don’t want to be rude – I cannot tell you everything I know,” he said. “I can just tell you that I wasn’t looking to make five changes.
“The circumstances dictated that we had to change. Don’t read anything into why but sometimes I can’t tell you everything.”
Rosler refused to disclose the nature of Wood’s injury, though he does not expect the striker to face a long spell on the sidelines.
Antenucci started alone up front in the absence of Leeds’ summer signing from Leicester City.
“He (Wood) was injured. I don’t think it’s a long one,” Rosler said.
“We found a way where we included Mirco very much in our play. I’m happy with his contribution and we didn’t isolate him.
“We probably had the most passes we’ve had away from home but we lost the game 3-0. Circumstances went against us and we have to learn out of this that we can’t be too nice.”