Shambolic Display at Middlesbrough… But Would Leeds Coach be ALLOWED to Drop Bellusci? – by Rob Atkinson


Cellino: calling the shots?

Cellino: calling the shots?

By common consent, the main difference between Leeds United and high-flying Middlesbrough at the weekend was the less-than-helpful presence in the Whites back line of one Giuseppe Bellusci, a man to whom the intricacies of central defending appear to be what Rugby League is to Julian Clary.

Bellusci’s laughably weak attempt at a clearance, making barely any contact with a cross-ball well within his reach, led directly to David Nugent‘s opening goal. The Italian then compounded that error by heading past his own keeper under no particular pressure, to double the hosts’ advantage. The game was already as good as over at this relatively early stage, even with Middlesbrough looking rather less than dominant. Leeds – or, more specifically, Bellusci – had thrown it away, far more then Boro having had to earn their decisive lead.

Support for that point of view came from United pundit, ex-striker for the Whites and passionate Leeds fan Noel Whelan, who was particularly scathing in his summing-up, both of the  “shambolic” defender’s performance and, more generally, his suitability to represent Leeds United. Annoyingly for many, the team selection was made in spite of the availability of Liam Cooper, who had been in possession of the shirt, and had hardly disgraced himself. Some pretty fair judges feel that “disgracing himself” just about nails it as far as Bellusci’s performance on Sunday at The Riverside is concerned.

Even Head Coach Uwe Rösler has been somewhat equivocal in the matter, falling some way short of backing a player under heavy fire in the press. “I think it would be unfair after losing 3-0 to go into details of any individual player,” Rosler said, when asked about Bellusci. “I saw the game, you saw the game and that is where we should leave it.” Hardly a ringing endorsement of a squad member Rösler had – apparently – preferred to the evidently steadier and more reliable Cooper.

Or did he?

It does rather beg the question of where the final say rests in team selection matters. Rösler can sometimes appear rather uncomfortable when quizzed about certain decisions, and it’s a matter for some concern as to exactly how far he’s able to go in defending his own picks – or maybe excusing those of people above him in the United hierarchy. In short, many outside the club are concerned that, since the departure of Adam Pearson – who had gently ushered owner Massimo Cellino safely into the background – the Captain may now be back on the bridge again, and chucking his weight about to the detriment of the ship’s safety and smooth passage.

It will be very interesting to see exactly what the shape of the team will be for Leeds’ next game, especially the make-up of the defence. After such a very damning reaction from both press and public to Giuseppe Bellusci’s disastrous showing at Middlesbrough, you feel that some pointed questions will be asked if he survives the chop and keeps his place against Birmingham City. Those questions would almost certainly include loud voices demanding to know who exactly does pick the team, and why certain individuals are selected despite, rather than because of, current form.

Rösler is a professional and, reading between the lines of his comments about what went wrong at The Riverside, it’s clear he wasn’t exactly happy with the showing of a man who gave away Boro’s first goal and scored their second himself. It’s fair enough for us to be asking – will he be allowed to drop Bellusci, if he sees fit so to do? And, if he’s not allowed to make such a decision, with his managerial neck on the line and relying for his continued employment on getting results – then is his position as United’s Head Coach even tenable?

This blog believes that, no, it wouldn’t be. If Rösler doesn’t have full control of team selection – and there are sound reasons for believing that this may be the case – then, quite frankly, he should jump before he’s pushed. Then, clearly, the solids would hit the air-conditioning. But maybe that’s what needs to happen for some clarity to emerge in the vexed question of who really calls the shots in Leeds United’s match-day team selection.

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37 responses to “Shambolic Display at Middlesbrough… But Would Leeds Coach be ALLOWED to Drop Bellusci? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. RoystonLUFC

    I’ve been an avid supporter of MC ever since he arrived. I refuse to succumb to the knee-jerk mentality of many of our supporters. But if Bellusci retains his place in the team (or maybe even makes it as far as the bench) I might have to reconsider my position.

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    • Things were better when he took a back seat to Pearson, I think that’s beyond dispute.

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      • HI Rob,on this,I disagree…”Would Leeds Coach be ALLOWED to Drop Bellusci? ” perhaps the most we can say is that Cellino had a hand in asking Rosler to play him in that game,to give him a chance..but your suggesting that Rosler wouldn’t be allowed to drop him?

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      • Well, I’m asking the question – and I think it’s a fair question to ask.

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    • sniffersshorts v superwoman

      totally agree on your point Royston point, its phew you maybe right Rob. dropping cooper and not playing dare I say Wooton against boro would have been a safer option, Bellusci and our keeper do not communicate as we saw on many occasions last season. problem is he was forgiven for actually scoring a couple of goals last season. but he really needs to be moved on in January we have better options with youth coming through and whats on the bench. Erwin also now needs a go and perhaps even Malhern, we need to swop it around a bit, we have a ruddy squad use it.

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  2. Rob, these are telling questions. Following my comment on your last article (re: debts to pay if Leeds returns to the Prem before 2017) the cynic in me suspects that Bellusci will be well rewarded by Cellino for throwing a game that Leeds were not expected to win; thus keeping promotion this term an unlikely prospect, without the spoiling tactics used appearing to be deliberate. From Robbo’s and Redder’s cryptic comments about failing if they do well, the same behind-the-scenes manipulations were probably in play last season.

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  3. It doesn’t matter who plays for us rob were an utter load of crap , new manager , new coaches , new owner and new players but same old rubbish. I’m afraid sir you’ll be writing things like this for another 20 years and we’re be still crap and in the bottom end of the championship or league 1 most prob , do yourself a favour and retire m8

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    • Sadly for the world in general and Leeds fans in particular, I’m here to stay 😉 As for the team – football is cyclical. We’ll rise again – one day.

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    • we are not crap,I disagree. that game was a one off and the performance wasn’t all that bad. I saw Leeds play Rubbish against MK DONS And win,And i was scathing for their performance in that game..but the last game Leeds did not deserve that result..Poor defending that all..only the defense was Crap but normally we play well there..I don’t accept we are Crap and i don’t see where your going with all this negative and generalization? If Leeds play like that all season,bar the defense of course,,i would be pleased,because Middlesborough did not deserve to win with 3 clear goals,and they are a top club in this division..i’ve seen Leeds draw against poor sides,But i thought Leeds played rather well away to them,we just threw the game away because of two players,Bamba,,but that was an exception,and that Bellusci who was atrocious ..LET KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE SHALL WE? We have two great wingers to come from now on till the end of the season..Leeds will soon go on a winning run and everyone will be saying wow,we are doing so super..have a long term perspective the season is still young!!!

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  4. Mike Durham

    Well said Rob… I find it extremely hard to believe that Rosler would rely on Bellusci against a strong ‘Boro side and I find it even harder to believe that Silvestri appears to be escaping unscathed in all the criticism flying about! Any ball played into, or indeed across the six-yard box should be “keeper’s ball” and at times I wish Marco were a subbuteo keeper ; at least we could push him out and he’d have to come out for the flamin’ ball!! Bellusci should have been left in no doubt whatsoever that he was about to be flattened if he didn’t get out of the way for the second goal!! I sincerely hope our goalkeeping coach can rectify the obvious shortcomings a.s.a.p.

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  5. I reckon the coach would leave straight away if not in charge of any team selection. Byram rightly dropped, Sylvestri should be rested, more goalie coaching, he has no command over his goal area, hopeless at corners . Ball distribution pretty awful as usual .
    Mr Bellasloppy should be put out to grass . Otherwise things pretty good among rest of team.

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    • I Tend to agree Alec,I think it ok if Cellino now and again offers advise i dont have any problem with that..i dont think he picks the team though..if so,he will have learned his lesson anyway with that selection lol..No..we need to see this game as one freakish game that we did not deserve to lose as we did..that football for you..we did not win few games we should have,,and we beat MK Dons when really we should have won by two clear goals but played pathetic in the second half,specially after their red card..I Believe ,That soon, Leeds will go on a winning spree..once they get the Wingers in play,we will forget about the last game. we have a lot of games to win yet…we have seen how Teams start slow but go on to win many games on the trot ,all of a sudden,that team is near the top..THAT What I expect Leeds to do come October-November. even if we win the next two then draw the one after,that will set us nicely for the following two Month.we will make up a lot of Point I feel..people have to stop this knee-jerk Reaction and start to believe in the Team

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  6. David Dean

    When The Furher played Wooton at right back against MK Donalds ‘Gettin’ and the infallible one on Radio Leeds assumed he had replaced Barardi to give more height to the defence. Rosler came clean and did not take the credit for that advantage – he gave Barardi a rest. He has not been able to give Taylor a rest as there is no immediate replacement but he can give Cooper a rest and keep Bellendusci happy – he gave him a match. The Furher will not be dictated to by IL DUCE – I don’t believe he would stand for it.

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  7. Spot on! CELLINO is running the selection process.

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  8. Rob
    Last Tuesday Cooper along with Dallas and Bamba did not train due to illness. I find it inconceivable that Belluci would ever be preferred to Cooper if Cooper were fit.
    I think that The Coach had no option but to play the ‘Circus Clown’, who must NEVER be selected again. Wootton, who is equally poor sadly has to be the deputy Centre Back from now on.
    Our spine within the squad is still painfully shorn of quality at Centre Half, Central Midfield and another striker is an absolute must.
    The League is far weaker than last season. There is not one team a patch on the three that went up last May.
    We are slowly improving and Rosler must be given time, but with CELLINO that won’t happen andI fear another wasted season is now unfolding, but let’s hope with Buckley signing this week we can win our next two home games and push up towards the top six.
    We can but hope.

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  9. I am desperately not trying to buy into this. If I believed that Cellino is overruling team selection and undermining the coach, then I see so hope for this club ever progressing despite who was manager or coach. The very idea that the Italian is somehow deliberately influencing and creating bad team performance is crazy. If he is, then Rosler will walk, I’m sure of it, as I beleive he is an honourable man and would never tolerate this.
    We have the basis of a good team, the youngsters are playing their guts out. Botaka had a good début and we have Buckley to look forward to. We need another striker and a seasoned defender and we then will not be far off. All this conspiracy is like a cancer and if we don’t do something about it we will destroy ourselves.

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  10. Signing Buckley on loan would appear to shoot the “failure conspiracy” theory down in flames (unless the loan was previously arranged under Pearson of course!).

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  11. Please Don Revie, come back!!!!!!!

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  12. Ropey Wyla

    If Rosler could get Bellusci to put heads on the ball like that at the other end of the pitch….

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  13. No one is defending his useless performance at Boro, but in my opinion our captains performance was every bit as bad and he has been out of form for a while now . Maybe Uwe thought having a more experienced player might help him . I don’t go with your idea that Cellinio is picking the team . If he is and Uwe is allowing this , we need a new Manager , because he is not the man to take us forward if he can’t be man enough to stand up to him . Besides Uwe has already stated in various articles that he picks the team , are you calling him a liar ?? Me thinks your anti Cellinio bias coming out here Rob .

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  14. Ma chere Sir ou Madame,
    ah am raahting zees letter to clear up some silly meesunderstandings about ma renumeration from FIFA.
    Ah worked verree ‘arde for four years and did not get paid one lousy Euro for EIGHT YEARS! Lucky for me zat some friends helped me out wiz ze overseas vacances, les private schools for ze keeds, an ‘ouse in ze country, you know seemple stuff like zees, udderwise we would av been on Skeed Row no worries.
    I ‘ad to negotiate verree ‘ard wiz Monsieur Blatter to get it, and so ma final settlement included nine years worth of interest.
    I am writing to ze FIFA ethics Committee to get zees mess sorted out once and for all. Heureusement, Sepp just happens to be Committee Chairman, an’ ‘as assured me zat once he returns from his work experience at ze Beeston radio station, he will have it all swept under ze carpet in no time.
    I will use all my energies to deflect attention away from maself until ze election next year.
    Au revoir,
    Michel.

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  15. godlikegiles

    Isn’t Italian football strange the way top teams get caught fixing games, thank god it doesn’t happen here errr couldn’t happen here could it?

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  16. A good question Rob it would also explain why Silvestri has yet to be dropped he does not inspire confidence does not command his area his distribution is poor did anybody tell him Chris Woods wasn’t playing on Sunday aimlessly hoofing the ball up field him and Belluschi in the same team are a car crash waiting to happen . Sadly we don’t seem to recruit coaches that understand the need for a good back four and our owner seems to put his countrymen before the team

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  17. wetherby white

    I try not to get to sucked into some of the conspiracy theories doing the rounds but the thought of our idiot owner having ANY say over team selection chills me to the bone. Its bad enough having a man who only days after the sadly departed Adam Pearson, is rambling to the press again. Telling us all what he thinks young players think after being offered contracts of less money etc etc…Name a club ever who had had an interfering Chairman which has ever achieved anything? Look at our own club-the late great Les Silver-no rantings, just backed Wilko and we achieved success. Next comes “rent a gob” Ridsale, a man you could never shut up and who precided over one of the biggest football meltdowns in history. Ignoring criminals (Bates and Harvey) and useless Arabs, were back with a mouthy Chairman again. As my nan used to say “if you’ve not got anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all” Sound advice..

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  18. wetherby white

    Thanks Rob. Seems as Im on tea break, thought Id give full vent to my feelings about our beloved club at the moment. As the early season front runners edge over 20 points do you get that massive feeling of dejavu…AGAIN! Another season wheres weve underinvested (Barton would have made a massive difference), bigmouth chairman has got his excuses in early with his “new” two year plan-a cowards excuse charter. We look like a team AGAIN with no natural leaders on the pitch, scared shitless of playing at home, short on quality all over the field and a manager who seems excellent and pointing out what is going wrong and unable to do anything about it. I spend my weekends either with my head in my hands at ER or dreading the scores from away games..AGAIN. Two options now-back to work or shoot myself, I’ll let you know what I go for.

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