Former Leeds captain Trevor Cherry has branded the six United players who withdrew at short notice from yesterday’s match against Charlton a ‘disgrace’ and called for them to be sacked by the club.
Italian quartet Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Dario del Fabro and Marco Silvestri, Frenchman Souleymane Doukara and Albanian Edgar Cani all told beleaguered head coach Neil Redfearn they were injured and could not travel to London.
Redfearn, speaking after his side lost 2-1 at The Valley, described it as a “freakish” set of events. According to the head coach, Silvestri had been rested since sustaining a knock but had been expected to recover, while Antenucci and Cani declared themselves unfit after training on Thursday with the rest pulling out following a ‘light’ session on Friday.
But Cherry was unimpressed and wants the players out of Elland Road.
“I would sack them and take the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) on,” he said. “I don’t think players can do that, it’s scandalous and it’s just another story for Leeds United that is disgraceful.
He added: “I don’t know exactly the players and it might be one or two of them have got a good excuse, but it sounds too stupid to be true.”
Striker Antenucci used Twitter to defend himself, as did goalkeeper Silvestri who posted a picture of a cut on his back suffered against Norwich on Tuesday night. However, Cherry questioned if they were legitimate reasons to withdraw.
“In the old days you used to play with anything, cuts or one thing or another,” he said. “The managers had a big say in whether you were fit or not. You didn’t just come in and say ‘I’ve got a headache, I’m going home’. I’m sure with George Graham or Don Revie, I can’t imagine what would have happened if you’d have done that.”
The withdrawals are just the latest incident in another turbulent period at Leeds.
Redfearn’s position at Elland Road has become increasingly threatened over recent weeks, despite leading the club to Championship safety after taking over from ill-fated predecessors David Hockaday and Darko Milanic.
He saw assistant Steve Thompson lose his job without warning on April 2 and his own deal, which expires at the end of the season, looks increasingly unlikely to be renewed under the club’s current regime.
Club president Massimo Cellino has been banned since January after being found guilty of not paying tax on a yacht in Italy, but is due to return in a fortnight’s time.
Cherry, who played for Leeds between 1972 and 1982, was left to lament the situation at his old club.
“It’s a club that’s a shambles and has been a shambles for 10 years,” the ex-England defender said. “We just stutter from disaster to disaster, joke to joke. If it wasn’t sickening it would be funny. You couldn’t write a book about Leeds United and what’s happened.
“Personally, I don’t know the Italian guy but I don’t think he realises the size of the club, it’s just a little play thing and he’s making a mess of it in my opinion.”