HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom insists there has been no negative reaction among the Leeds United squad to owner Andrea Radrizzani’s public criticism following the collapse in form that ended any hopes of promotion.
The Elland Road club is playing for little more than pride in the final nine games after winning just once since the start of 2018.
Radrizzani went public with his frustration earlier this week, lambasting the players for showing “no commitment, no passion, no spirit” during the recent slump. Heckingbottom revealed the squad has not met the club’s owner since the outburst before adding: “The owner’s put his money into the football club and he has got every right to say what he feels is right.
“How have the players reacted? Fine. They understand that, they know that. It will not change their focus and it will not change their approach. They want to win for their own reasons, for the football club and for the owner because they do understand the support they have had while they have been here.
“We have not discussed it but Andrea has spoken to the players on numerous occasions this season so there is not a disconnect. There is a real togetherness in terms of accessibility and common goal. You could ask anyone here, ‘What do they want for Leeds United?’ And I bet you everyone would say the same.”
Radrizzani highlighted last month’s 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough as the lowpoint of the season, bemoaning how let down the club felt after all the backing that had been given to the players via new contracts and a mid-season training camp in Spain.
Asked if he agreed with Radrizzani’s concerns over attitude within the dressing room, Heckingbottom said: “From my point of view, when I look at the players on the pitch, errors have cost us more. But I look at the Middlesbrough game and I thought we were out-fought.
“You can look at that and think that as soon as it got tough and difficult, we reverted to type. That is what can’t happen. If we have to over-achieve and compete against people with more financial might than us, one of the things we have got to have is a winning mentality.
“That is not just the players. Everyone has to step up to the plate and be better.”
Andrea has spoken to the players on numerous occasions this season so there is not a disconnect. There is a real togetherness in terms of accessibility and common goal.Leeds United head coach, Paul Heckingbottom