Tag Archives: Giuseppe Bellusci

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.

Advertisements

Heavy Metal Football Turns To Wagnerian Tragedy for Leeds   –   by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci - bad day at the office

Bellusci – bad day at the office

Middlesbrough 3, Leeds United 0

Uwe Rösler‘s pre-season promise of “heavy metal football” – high-energy, high-tempo, high-pressing stuff, as we were assured – has started to take on a rather hollow ring. The only resemblance between the Leeds United showing at Middlesbrough‘s Riverside Stadium, and any type of rock-star behaviour, was a marked tendency to auto-destruction.

It would be difficult indeed to imagine Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious or even Michael Hutchence doing a more comprehensive job of self-immolation than that perpetrated by the Whites today. United were slain almost entirely by their own hand, with Middlesbrough in the incidental role of witness bystanders who then promptly picked the corpse’s pockets and made off into the night.

Middlesbrough’s callous opportunism in exploiting Leeds’ suicidal defending was compounded by their occasionally agricultural approach to winning possession, showing no scruples when it came to scything down any white shirt near the ball. The true villain of the piece though, from United’s point of view, was the referee. Lancastrian Neil Swarbrick could and probably should have dismissed Boro’s Christian Stuani for the second or third of his trio of crude challenges on United’s Charlie Taylor. The first had earned a yellow card – but it was really no worse than either of the others. 

These things happen, as they say – but Swarbrick’s decision to disallow Mirco Antenucci‘s 55th minute strike, for the most marginal of offside calls, was at least as inflammatory for suffering United fans. Was Antenucci offside? His beard might just have been, by a gnat’s hair, if the ball got a Leeds touch on the way through. There was plenty of room for doubt though, and the laws say attackers should get the benefit of any such doubt. Not here, though, not today. Not for Leeds United. ‘Twas ever thus.

This was a pity for the sake of the game, if nothing else. A goal then and Leeds would have been one behind, with over half an hour to go – and well on top in general play. All this after inflicting on themselves two mortal wounds early in the first half. Giuseppe Bellusci was the guilty party on each occasion, first waving his head ineffectually at a passing cross, for David Nugent to gather in and score – and then diving brilliantly to beat his own keeper with an unstoppable near-post header. At that point, the Leeds defender was nailed on for the Boro Man of the Match award. 

After the ref’s questionable decision to disallow Antenucci’s second half strike, Leeds mustered only one more threat of note, Antenucci again being denied when he headed straight at the Boro keeper from Jordan Botaka‘s quality right-wing cross. After that, a discouraged United side slowly ran out of steam, and we were just waiting for the fat lady to sing and end this Wagnerian tragedy.

In true operatic style, Leeds had taken a long time to die and were awfully messy about it. With Boro’s creative vacuum filled by Uniteds’ defensive calamities, which provided all the victors’ goals, there had always seemed a chance that the Whites might claw their way back, given a little inspiration of their own. The coup de grâce, though, was yet another self-inflicted injury when it arrived on 81 minutes. Sol Bamba uncharacteristically slipped up in his own area, to present the third goal on a plate for a grateful Diego Fabbrini – and that was enough to finish off Yorkshire’s finest.

It’s not easy to find positives to take from a day when nothing went right. Such a very, very bad day at the office would normally see the place burnt out with the loss of all staff and possibly the entire building. Leeds don’t do bad days by halves. And yet some of the Whites’ play showed promise, with flashes of brilliance from Taylor, Lewis Cook and Botaka in particular. It was difficult to see beforehand the reason for Liam Cooper‘s replacement by Bellusci, and that decision seemed dafter the longer the game went on. But Leeds will play worse than this overall (though not in defence) and win. Some belief, confidence and the sorting out of the chaos in front of the hapless Silvestri is what we urgently need now. 

With little home comfort so far this season, Leeds now face two tests at Elland Road in Birmingham City and early leaders Brighton, either side of another international break. After those two encounters, with not far off a quarter of the Championship marathon completed, we should have a reasonably good picture of exactly where we are and what this season might hold. Certainly Rösler should by then have a better idea of exactly what kind of music his mixed band of players are able to make.

Cameron Jerome Disappointed NOT to Have Been Racially Abused? – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci & Jerome - he said, she said...

Bellusci & Jerome – he said, she said…

To the surprise of many Leeds United fans, long inured to the habit of those wielding any sort of power finding against their favourites, Whites defender Giuseppe Bellusci was cleared of a charge that he racially abused Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome. It was an accusation that had been hanging over Bellusci for too many months; one can only speculate about the effect that the ongoing issue has had on his ability to conduct a career in professional football. And yet it is still Cameron Jerome, a man who has not been unwilling in the past to fling accusations of this nature at fellow professionals, who seems to see himself as the sole victim here.

In the end, common sense prevailed. The eventual verdict amounts to a slightly insipid “not proven”, but – as I had previously speculated – it is difficult to see how the outcome could have been anything else. With one man’s word standing against another’s consistent denials (and alternative take on what was actually said) and absolutely no third-party corroboration one way or the other, it is clear which way the verdict should have gone – although there is always many a potential slip ‘twixt cup and lip. There is no reason, either, to conclude that the decision reflects ill on Jerome; there is no suggestion, after all, that he has been anything other than scrupulously truthful in his account of what he thought he heard. The outcome follows on from the acceptance of the panel that there was a misunderstanding here, aggravated by the language barrier. Unable to prove either man wrong or false in his account, what else could this judicially-convened body reasonably do?

Jerome, though, is not persuaded and feels hard done by. Possibly he feels that his honesty has been impugned, in which case somebody with a better grasp of the technicalities should perhaps sit him down and gently explain. But there appears to be some resolve on the “disappointed” Jerome’s part to pursue the matter further, if at all possible. In this, he may well be backed by the “Kick It Out” movement, who have hinted at support for the miffed striker after due consideration of the reasons behind the decision.

Kick It Out is a worthy campaign for positive good in the modern game. But are they really serving anyone’s best interests in a case where, regardless of what was actually said by both parties, it will be impossible to prove the matter one way or the other? Their offer of support to Jerome is laudable enough in itself, but it would be better directed, surely, towards explaining to the guy the difficulties of proving something without any supporting evidence – and particularly where there is a reasonable basis for supposing that neither man is lying and a misunderstanding is the real culprit here. Instead, the stance of both the alleged injured party and his potential supporters appears to be a determination to keep open this can of worms, come what may.

The fact is that, in the heat of battle, with native tongues angrily resorted to, it’s entirely reasonable and understandable that whatever was said had its intended meaning lost in translation. Bellusci says he shouted in Italian that he would “black Jerome’s eye” after suffering a foul by the Norwich forward. It is this altercation that is pictured above. The Italian word for black is “nero” – it’s easy to see how an English speaker might hear that as “negro”. That’s the word Jerome thought he heard, and that – naturally – formed the whole basis for his subsequent complaint, which he has been acknowledged to have made quite properly and conducted impeccably. There is a minor dispute here about the word used, but beyond a one letter difference that doesn’t seem to be a crucial point – and it comes under the umbrella of “misunderstanding”. Only the meaning, or sense, is substantially disputed. It meant one thing coming from Bellusci’s angry mouth, so we are told – and quite another as heard by Jerome’s outraged ear. Therein lies the crux of the misunderstanding (which cannot be disproved) – and that is why this decision was – had to be – correct.

If Jerome has any common-sense at all, and does not want to be thought of as pursuing a vendetta in pushing an unprovable point of view – if he does not, in short, want to be thought guilty of that dread phrase “playing the race card” – then he had better swallow his well-publicised disappointment and get on with playing football as he is paid to do. On the facts and the evidence, or lack thereof, there is little else he can feasibly do. The Kick It Out campaign, whatever their understandable zeal in wishing to root out racists and see them dealt with, are not serving anyone’s best interests in advising their man otherwise – least of all Cameron Jerome himself.

Massimo Cellino went on record during the long wait for this matter to be decided as saying that, if Bellusci were to be found guilty of racism, then he’d be out of the club. As simple and unambiguous as that. There is absolutely no reason to suspect that Leeds United FC has anything other than a zero tolerance policy where racism is concerned. Not every club could say as much. Leeds, let us not forget, had in Albert Johanneson the first black player in an FA Cup Final; they had a black player (Gerry Francis) in the almost entirely white British 1950s – and they supported such an effective anti-racism campaign in the 80s that the club virtually rid itself of its extreme minority, who were reduced from a vocal force in and around the Elland Road stadium to disconsolate pariahs, shunned and marginalised by genuine Leeds supporters.

If – despite the “not proven” verdict – Giuseppe Bellusci did harbour the evil of racism deep within himself, then he would have chosen the wrong club to play for in Leeds, where black players have been a vital part of successive squads ever since the pioneering contributions of Terry Connor, Noel Blake, Vince Hilaire and others, over the past four decades. If Bellusci were of this unacceptable mind, he would be found out and turfed out by the club. I am proud to be able to claim this for Leeds, a club where Nelson Mandela’s hero, Lucas Radebe, has attained a God-like status, almost literally worshipped to this day by thousands of Leeds fans for whom his black skin is either irrelevant or a matter of defiant pride. Certain other clubs are demonstrably a long, long way behind Leeds in this respect.

Let us move on now, for all that is good in the game. Let Bellusci and Jerome get on with their respective careers, let Kick It Out continue with their vital work and their increasingly educational and beneficial influence on football in this country. This case has been an unedifying spectacle for too long now, giving hope to those with unsavoury agendas and casting doubt on the ability of my club and the game as a whole to thrive in their current proudly multi-cultural complexion. It’s gone on far too long and it’s ended more honourably than might have been the case.

Disappointed or not, Cameron Jerome – and, by extension, Norwich City – it now behoves you to accept the outcome and move on. Let that process begin now.

FA Charge Italian Bellusci With Racism…for Speaking in Italian – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci: "Posso negare il razzismo!"

Bellusci: “Posso negare il razzismo!

The latest news on the latest Cameron Jerome “racial abuse” claims: Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci will attend in person to put his version of events to an FA disciplinary commission tomorrow – let’s hope that he gets a fair hearing and doesn’t become a victim of “antipodean marsupial justice”. I won’t hold my breath – although the impartiality of football authorities’ judicial proceedings IS coming on in leaps and bounds…

There was a time when corroborative evidence from a third party was required – or at least highly desirable – in order for a charge as serious as racial abuse to be brought against a football player or other alleged offender. Rumour has it that, in some areas of footballing and other jurisprudence, that may even still be the case. But this is Leeds United, so those troublesome little considerations needn’t apply – or so it increasingly seems. 

Whatever the moral and legal ins and outs, the FA have looked into a complaint by Cameron Jerome of Norwich City FC against Giuseppe Bellusci of Leeds. Jerome alleges racist language. Bellusci hotly denies any such thing. Who is to say which man is telling the truth? It could even be that the whole thing is an unfortunate misunderstanding across the language barrier – see below. But, leaving all of these problems aside, the FA are prepared to make a case of it, despite the hideous difficulty of establishing the truth when Party A alleges something, Party B denies it (Beh, è il vostro diritto di negare questa accusa, Giuseppe, non è vero?)* – and there is no Party C to swear true from false.

* The Italian phrase above means (as nearly as Google translate allows me to render it) “Well, it’s your right to deny this accusation, Giuseppe, isn’t it?” You may notice how I have subtly emphasised the word “negare“, meaning “deny”. Apparently, one plank of Bellusci’s defence is that, after being elbowed by Mr Jerome and then being treated to a volley of ripe abuse by that gentleman, he remarked to him quite calmly, in Italian, whilst pointing at his own neck “You can’t deny the elbow”. 

If this is true, and if Jerome (whose Italian may not be exactly fluent as Serie A clubs have managed somehow to resist signing him thus far) has simply mistaken the word “negare” as something racially sinister – then, in the absence of any corroborative evidence either way, it’s very hard to see how a fair-minded, competent authority could possibly find against Signor Bellusci. That’s not to say, of course, that the FA will have any such difficulty, particularly as this is another golden opportunity for the football powers that be to have another swipe at nasty old Leeds, much to the delight of rival fans, gutter press hacks and other such morons everywhere. But that plank of the Leeds man’s defence appears, on the face of it, to be fairly stout.

It’s a pretty dicey situation, this. These are troubled, even shark-infested waters. The FA may feel that racism is such a topical hot potato that, where an allegation is made, a charge should follow as night follows day, lest they be thought of as sweeping things under the carpet. That, however, doesn’t entitle them to dispense with good old English precepts like “innocent until proven guilty” – nor yet the even older Latin one about prima facie evidence.

In the glaring absence of any corroboration whatsoever, and with the intriguing possibility of a tragic misunderstanding as outlined above, it’s genuinely difficult to see how the charge against Bellusci can be proven – even under the less legally exacting ‘balance of probabilities’ test that applies in non-criminal cases. Or, to put my paranoid hat back on, might the allegedly august governing body hold that, as the player is on the books of the Damned United, he’s more likely than not a wrong’un – and find accordingly against him? Tread carefully, chaps. There will be some pretty sharp lawyers out there watching your every step down the crooked path you might be tempted to follow. Ask Shaun Harvey over at the League about that.

Leeds United AFC, it warms my heart to confirm, are standing four-square behind their man, and for solid and grounded reasons – namely: the player consistently denies the allegation; and there is no independent confirmation of what was, or wasn’t, said. Certain Norwich City supporters have taken to Twitter and hormonally demanded that Leeds United should be summarily liquidated for this stance. I can only clap my face to my palm in despair and recommend that such very un-cerebral people might benefit from an elementary law course, a session watching “Petrocelli” or maybe a somewhat larger gene pool – quite possibly all three. Not, of course, that I would wish to be in any way Wurzellist or yokellist here.

As ever with Leeds United and their frequent brushes with the game’s authorities, it’s not possible to predict any outcome with any degree of confidence. But, given the apparent and hard-to-dispute facts of this case, surely there would have to be an excess of stupidity, malice and vindictiveness for the decision to go against Bellusci. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened…

The sad fact is that we are in a mess largely of our own making in that football governing bodies and fans organisations alike have tended over the past few decades to recoil in horror at any manifestation of racial prejudice. This has to be A Good Thing, of course – but it can have unfortunate consequences and there is arguably too much room these days for sledgehammers to be employed in the cracking of walnuts.

I’m not advocating any return to the days when a racial slur was tolerated and complainants were advised to take a “sticks and stones may break my bones” approach. It is tempting to wonder, though, what the likes of Cyrille Regis and Viv Anderson feel about the current squeamishness over name calling by the ignorant, as compared with what they had to go through in their seventies heyday – having bananas thrown at them, and other disgusting manifestations of brainless and moronic behaviour. What of our own late and lamented Albert Johanneson, who was staggered to find that he was allowed in the communal bath with the rest of the players, so used was he to being considered a second-class citizen where he grew up. Would our Albert have had a hissy fit over a name he thought he’d heard someone call him? Of course not. It’s all relative, and Albert had come from something far, far worse.

Surely to goodness, there’s a sane and happy medium somewhere? The experience of the past few years seems to be that it’s far too easy for allegations of racism to be made over hasty and possibly misapprehended words, exchanged in the heat of battle. If racial abuse can be demonstrated and if proof is at hand, then the offender should be dealt with accordingly – and in a manner to leave him (or her) in absolutely no doubt as to the inadvisability of such childish and ignorant carrying-on. But kangaroo courts hearing trumped-up charges based on uncorroborated and very possibly flawed statements – that’s a dangerous path to tread, and not one calculated to lead to increased harmony in our increasingly multi-cultural leagues. Whatever next? Will we see some hapless and brainless defensive midfielder hauled up on charges of being gingerist or stoutist? Just how stupid is the game prepared to make itself look?

Verbal abuse (whether racially-motivated or not) if it’s going to be the basis of disciplinary charges, needs to be at the most deeply offensive end of the scale – and it needs to be witnessed to such a degree as to make denial implausible. Otherwise, we’re going to continue with this spate of “name-calling” charges, and it’ll be open season on any hothead who lets his gob run away with him when tensions rise out there on the park. This would do no person and no cause any good at all – it would serve merely to trivialise something potentially highly damaging to the whole of sport and indeed society at large.

Here’s hoping that this current situation was the product of a misunderstanding, that both parties can be satisfied this is the case – and that the FA can conduct an urgent root and branch review into the standard of evidence and corroboration required before its wheels of justice start to grind. There is a very real danger here that our national sport’s venerable governing body might just end up looking even more stupid and out-of-touch than usual.

FA ‘Disappointed’ Over Leeds Utd Bellusci Stance – by Rob Atkinson

 

Prof. Dummfahrt in conference with himself, yesterday

Prof. Dummfahrt in conference with himself, yesterday

It has emerged from FA Headquarters that a growing disquiet over Leeds United’s determination to defend neo-Nazi thug Giuseppe Bellusci is leaving the ruling body “very disappointed”. Professor Hermann Dummfahrt, Head of FA Media Relations, was scathing when asked about Leeds’ intention to resist the unsubstantiated charges. “Nothing’s ever their fault, is it?” he snarled, bitterly. “Well, let me tell you, we at the FA have had quite enough of Leeds and we intend to scupper them good and proper, and by any means necessary.”

Prof. Dummfahrt has also reacted with dismay to news that United owner Massimo Cellino’s “Owners & Directors” suspension will not now kick in until his appeal against the Football League ban has been decided. This should mean that Cellino will, after all, be able to oversee Leeds’ limited transfer options in the January window. “The Football League. Ha!” the FA man spluttered, quite incandescent with rage. “They had one job. One!! And they’ve made a mess of it, a complete balls-up. You’d better believe me when I tell you we’ll be showing the League exactly how to deal with Leeds United”.

When asked what measures could be taken, the Professor was enthusiastic. “We have many options”, he chuckled. “There is this racism thing with Bellusci. The player claims that the everyday Italian word ‘Negareisn’t foul, racist abuse. Poppycock!! Then again, these unreliable, cheating Eyeties are all the same, it’s in their DNA – notorious liars….ahem.”

Feeling it best to move on from the topic of racism, we asked Dummfahrt what other sanctions might apply. “Well, I hear what you say – but don’t assume that our racism investigations end with Bellusci. Leeds also have a player, believe it or not, called Montenegro! Check out those last two syllables – racist as the ace of spades or what??” Hmmm. OK, yes, if you say so… but – what else do you have?

The Professor scratched his head and observed wryly “We have to be careful about these things. Forewarned is forearmed, you know? But we have shots in our locker, trust me. There’s the Lady Di situation – you’re not telling me Leeds United had nothing to do with that. And that Schweinhund Polish linesman at Wembley in 1966, who put him up to allowing that verdammt third goal, eh? Then there’s the global financial crisis – when the whole world “did a Leeds” and the poor old bankers got the blame. We’re optimistic there. And – nobody ever got nicked for the Jack the Ripper killings, did they? That’s worth a 15 to 30 point deduction on suspicion alone.”

At this point, our Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything correspondent was, to say the least, somewhat gobsmacked. Feeling that the eminent FA man was, perhaps, pulling his chain a little, our reporter asked Professor Dummfahrt if he was not straying somewhat from the path of reason and sanity. “After all, Professor,” our intrepid correspondent ventured, nervously. “A lot of people, listening to all that you’ve just said, might feel that you’re absolutely barking mad, dribblingly deranged and pursuing some insane and unjustified vendetta against a club earnestly trying to sort out its problems – just how would you respond to that?”

The Professor fixed our man with a steely glare and broke into a bout of cracked and maniacal laughter. “Mad?” he raved. “Mad?? Of course I’m bloody mad, you poor, simple soul!! How the hell do you think I qualified for a senior position at the FA in the first place??”

Doctor’s Orders: Warrior Bellusci Should Modify Goal Celebration – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci - sitting on a problem?

Bellusci – sitting on a problem?

Shortly after the home draw against Sheffield Wendies, I wrote an article expressing concern about Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci’s potentially damaging celebratory routine. He has this habit of showing his delight at scoring by executing a singularly ungraceful wheels-up landing from an altitude of approximately four feet, impacting Mother Earth on his unprotected tailbone, or coccyx – as we medical anoraks call it. Bellusci had already performed this trick once, after his worldie free-kick down at Bournemouth. Now, having notched a point-saver against the dee-dahs, he was at it again. Wincing, I took to my computer and penned a cautionary piece, never dreaming anyone would take it seriously.

To my surprise, however, there was some professional interest out there in Twitterland. No less a personage than the highly respected American “Tailbone Specialist” Dr. Patrick Foye, M.D. – Director of the “Coccyx Pain Center” at New Jersey Medical School – commented on the article, asking: “Can anyone point me to a video clip showing this athlete doing this celebratory display where he lands on his tailbone /coccyx region?” Happily, one of my remarkable band of regular readers, D. Bowden, was considerate enough to post in the same comments thread the following video clip of Giuseppe’s Bournemouth crash-landing.

The good doctor was clearly most alarmed. “Yikes!” he responded. “Definitely an avoidable risk for tailbone pain! In the world of risks/benefits, we all take risks, and sometimes it’s just to look cool. But this doesn’t look cool at all. All risk; no benefit. Good soccer skills though. Thanks for the video share.

Once I’d got over my surprise at an actual doctor taking the time and trouble to address a concern raised by my humble blog, it occurred to me that this was as near to wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth as we’re likely to get. In short, it’s expertise (given freely and without thought of recompense) that anybody running this risk will disregard strictly at his peril. It seems to me also that, as his employers, Leeds United might do well to review Bellusci’s post-goal conduct and perhaps have a quiet word with him about it.

After all – as ever with Leeds United – we have no shortage of problems, controversies and other issues both on and off the pitch. There is no need to go courting ill-fortune at the best of times and, at Elland Road, it’s always in plentiful supply anyway. Even if we were a mundane and boring football club, like certain of our Yorkshire neighbours, we wouldn’t be looking to the playing staff to enliven proceedings by inflicting orthopaedic disaster upon themselves. Better, surely, just to consider the matter and perhaps arrive at a more tranquil alternative for the celebration of future goals. And let us fervently hope that there are many more to come for, defender or no defender, Bellusci has the potential to be a Leeds United hero in the opposition’s penalty area.

My thanks to Doctor Foye for his valuable input and expert advice; I hope it reaches the ears of our Warrior in time for him to adopt a slightly more circumspect approach in whatever moments of joy and triumph the rest of this season may hold.

Leeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci Coccyx Conundrum – by Rob Atkinson

The Warrior has landed

The Warrior has landed – and Liam Cooper looks worried

One undoubted hero for Leeds United so far this season has been Giuseppe “The Warrior” Bellusci, a centre back with a penchant for rampaging forward, delivering ballistic free-kicks and delicate chips – and, significantly, a most perturbing goal celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no greater advocate than this blog for players who, upon donning the famous white shirt, are prepared to “bust their ass”, as our transatlantic friends have it, in the name of Leeds. We fans of Yorkshire’s premier club like nothing better than to see some effort being put in, some never-say-die attitude, a willingness to get some blood on the old boots. It’s what we demand of our heroes around these parts and if all this fearsomeness and belligerence can be allied to some genuine ability too, then so much the better.

The thing is – nobody with the interests of the club at heart wants to see this “ass-busting” become too much of a literal thing. And this is where the worries start with our Giuseppe. Because, when he scores, he has this celebration – first he does the traditional running around in small circles before fleeing for the nearest bunch of United fans, pursued by delighted team-mates. But then, it becomes a little scary as he ends his run by jumping into the air, tucking his knees up before extending his legs before him in flight – and landing square on the base of his spine, impacting the unforgiving earth with a hefty bump.

The first time I saw this, after his stellar dead ball strike at Bournemouth, I put it down to the fact that he’d just dispatched a worldy in a game where United had looked likely to get properly thumped. Some relief and delight was understandable – but even so, it made me wince. Bellusci is a meaty lad, and when his full weight hits terra firma from a height of even four feet, said weight jolting through his lower spine – well, you just have to fear for the headstrong guy’s coccyx.

The painful truth

The painful truth

The coccyx, for those who do not know, is the vestigial remnant of what used to be a fully-functional tail and dates back to that shadowy period of history when we all lived in trees and needed a prehensile “fifth limb” to aid us in negotiating our way from branch to branch. Those of us outside Lancashire have long since evolved beyond the need for such equipment but, nevertheless, we have that small, bony leftover at the base of the spine, much as whales still have redundant finger-bones in their flippers. Evolution, it appears, frequently fails to tidy up behind itself. The coccyx serves no function nowadays, save to remind us of the time when we all looked like Wayne Rooney – but it is a particularly vulnerable spot, as anyone who has sat down abruptly on a hard surface might testify. The risk of injury to the goal celebrant who makes a habit of abusing his coccyx (if you’ll pardon that expression) is very real indeed.

It’s lovely to see Bellusci score – obviously we will all hope he gets many more goals both this season and beyond. The sight of him rampaging forward against poor old Huddersfield was beautiful to behold; he took a return pass from Antenucci and exquisitely flighted the ball onto the Terriers’ crossbar for the redoubtable Mirko to volley the rebound into an empty net. Poetry in motion. On this occasion, as he hadn’t scored himself, Giuseppe merely modified his anguish at being denied into arms-raised joy at going two up after all. But, last time out, he was at it again with the coccyx abuse, after he’d slotted home beautifully, left-footed, to equalise against the Wendies. It was now obvious that this potentially painful celebration was not just a Bournemouth one-off. The nutter clearly intends to do it every time – and I’m very much afraid that disaster is inevitable; especially when the ground gets harder as the nights draw in.

Somebody needs to have a word with the lad. He’s a cult hero already, right up there with our superb, panther-like goalie Silvestri. He’d be a big loss to the team if he went and did himself a mischief the next time he provides a world-class finish. There must be other, perhaps more elegant ways of letting off some steam after notching. Hasselbaink’s half-baked cartwheel used to trouble me slightly, but it was nowhere near athletic enough to pose much of a risk to the scorer. Something ebullient, but safe – that’s what we’re really looking for here.

Perhaps if anybody with Darko’s ear (or even access to the Sheriff himself) reads this, then they might make a subtle suggestion that a bit more caution could be observed? After all, such a crunching jolt might not only imperil this valuable player’s coccyx – he might even end up biting his bloody tongue off, or wrenching something vital in the abdominal region. Such thoughts can bring tears to the eyes, and cause a troubled shadow to cloud the brow, of even the strongest fan.

Obviously, in the heat of the moment, it’s not easy to restrain the joy of scoring for Leeds. I can well believe that’s the case. But it’s frankly painful to watch one of our heroes risking his mobility and wellbeing in quite such a cavalier fashion and, if that’s how he is going to celebrate every time he scores – well, quite frankly, I’d rather leave the goal-getting to Noel Hunt, Steve Morison or, slightly more realistically, Silvestri himself.

Fellow Leeds fans, I kid you not.