LEEDS UNITED owner Andrea Radrizzani has lambasted the players for showing “no commitment, no passion, no spirit” during the collapse in form that dashed any hopes of a concerted push for promotion from the Championship.
The Elland Road club are playing for little more than pride in the final nine games after a horrible run.
Just one win from the last 14 games, plus an embarrassing FA Cup exit at Newport County, has left United’s season in ruins and their owner fuming, particularly over last month’s 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough.
“The team was put together in the summer and did quite well until the end of December,” said the Italian, who took full control of the club last summer after buying out Massimo Cellino.
“I was pleased with the results, but, unfortunately, in January we ruined everything.
“We need to learn from our mistakes. Firstly, myself. I am the first person responsible for this situation, and my management. The players also have a big part in these results.
“We gave them everything possible to focus on the football. As a club we support them with everything.
“We gave them long-term contracts, we support them going to a mid-season camp in Spain, we did everything they wanted, but we didn’t get back their commitment, their passion, the spirit, particularly in the most important game we played very poorly against Middlesbrough away.
“For me, it was the bottom of the season because there was no commitment, no passion, no spirit. I don’t want players in my team and representing Leeds United with this behaviour. I hope they can learn and be with me next year, playing better with more commitment.”
Leeds led the table in September under new head coach Thomas Christiansen.
At that stage, Radrizzani’s pre-season target of a place in the play-offs looked very much on, but the recent slump means United now trail the top six by 11 points.
Christiansen paid with his job in February, while successor Paul Heckingbottom has won just once in seven games at the helm.
“This year it is impossible to think about promotion,” Radrizzani said. “We need to play the next (nine) games showing the spirit and passion that we’re missing and show the players that we need their respect.
“I am happy to meet the players face to face and tell them the same because they need to know what the club think about the season.”