Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani yesterday questioned the "commitment, passion and spirit" of his playing staff this season - but was he right to do so?
The Yorkshire Evening Post's Leeds United writer Phil Hay and digital specialist Joe Urquhart have different views.
Read both sides of the argument below to see who you agree with most.
There comes a point, and Leeds United have gone beyond it, where a squad’s collective ego no longer deserves to be massaged. Their season is lost and two months of dead rubbers can only lead to harsh introspection. Criticism is never more pointed at a football club than when it comes directly from the top.
Criticism of Leeds should be aimed at the top as much as the dressing room itself but it is useful to know that Andrea Radrizzani is as annoyed with this season as anyone else. The players will not like his attack on them or appreciate him slating their effort publicly but the most self-aware amongst them will have know that a dressing-down was coming. They have one win since Boxing Day and are playing like a team with one win since Boxing Day. The lights went out a while ago.
Radrizzani saw the sign of submission at Middlesbrough two weeks ago and that night was the end of the line. Three points separated Middlesbrough and Leeds beforehand and Boro played like a side with the play-offs in their nostrils. The smell around Leeds was rotten. The little bursts of energy - in the second half at Derby County, in the tiresome run of fightbacks at Elland Road - masked a thorough loss of confidence in where this season was going. You wonder when these players last felt the season going their way.
Commitment, passion and spirit - the three attributes which Radrizzani accused the squad of lacking - are never easy to quantify. Jermaine Beckford had an aloof and lackadaisical personality, the demeanour of a footballer who could take it or leave it, but David Prutton, a team-mate of his at Elland Road for three years, remembers Beckford as a driven, self-critical striker who cared more than his body language suggested. “He’d always take the hump with himself when he didn’t score or play well,” Prutton recalled. “He’d mope about the training ground. I loved that about him.”
Conversely, Leeds have employed committed, hyper-passionate players who got nowhere fast but there is kudos to be gained from soldiering on, even when the play-offs are running away from you. Back-to-back games against Middlesbrough and Wolves were Leeds’ chance to give this season one last chance. On both occasions they rolled over and died. It is hard not to think that while Radrizzani’s thoughts deserved to be aired, he was reading the riot act a month too late. The morning after Thomas Christiansen’s sacking might have been the time to call his players out.
That said, his criticism should generate a degree of sympathy for them. It was Radrizzani and the recruitment team below him who built the team and Radrizzani and others in the boardroom who repeatedly described this as a top-six squad. It is patently not. In amongst the attack on passion and spirit, it would have been reassuring to hear Radrizzani concede that point or at least accept that the club had misjudged the Championship. There was no mention of transfers or Victor Orta’s role as director of football. That, frankly, a crucial area of discussion.
The only conclusion to draw from Radrizzani’s remarks is that the slow death of this season will have consequences. Certain players will be gone in the summer if Leeds can find a way to move them on. Radrizzani can take issue with their performances, and the chain of results since Christmas offers little in the way of a credible defence. But this falls on the Italian too because there is more to a mid-table finish than footballers failing to pull a leg. In amongst the talk of commitment, passion and spirit, one word was missing - quality.
Joe Urquhart - No, he should have kept it in house
I'm all for Andrea Radrizzani having his say – but should he really be airing his dirty laundry in public?
Yes, the Whites have under performed dramatically since the New Year and the players, more than most, know that. To answer this question simply, no.
Radrizzani should've kept his views in house and now risks mutiny from those that feel aggrieved by his comments.
He may well feel let down by the performances but accusing players outright of having “no commitment, passion or spirit” is strong stuff and seems all a bit much for the wider-watching world.
During his interview on Tuesday, he made it clear he would have no issue in addressing the players face-to-face. Why not try that avenue first?
The squad is already vastly under pressure and Radrizzani's comments have only intensified what is already starting to become a poisonous situation.
By all means tell it how it is, but I can't help feel this should've stayed between him, the playing staff and the four walls of Elland Road. Now a public humiliation has resulted and only fuelled the already burning fire among the fan base.
The players have battled this season and in many departments have fallen short, there is absolutely no getting away from that.
The recruitment last summer has evidently not been good enough and from what we have seen so far the players aren't up to the levels Radrizzani, or the Leeds United faithful for that matter, expected of them.
Many will argue that he has brought in these players himself therefore he can do what he likes but a public undressing is not the way to handle these matters - he has a coach for exactly that reason.
The boardroom, coaching staff and players are all supposed to be singing from the same hymn sheet and now Radrizzani’s comments put that in jeopardy. What happens next may well prove me wrong or, unfortunately, right.
Time will tell who is up for the fight at Elland Road and that’s the real reason for all this media circus. Among the many things the Italian has got right in his short time in West Yorkshire I believe he’s got this one very, very wrong.