Tag Archives: penalty shootout

Coach Rösler “To be Stripped of German Nationality” Following Leeds Penalty Debacle? – by Rob Atkinson

Chris Wood's penalty, spotted in low Earth orbit yesterday

Chris Wood’s penalty, spotted in low Earth orbit yesterday

Leeds United‘s ignominious exit from the Capital One Cup at Doncaster on Thursday night seems likely to have far-reaching consequences way beyond the effects on Yorkshire’s leading club this season, with dire sanctions being proposed against the Leeds Head Coach Uwe Rösler.

United’s failure to progress hung on an abysmal performance in the penalty shoot-out following a draw after extra time. It is well-known in football circles that progress is the rule rather than the exception for teams coached by Germans in these sudden death tie-breakers. German efficiency in penalty competitions is of legendary proportions, as Gareth Southgate, Chris Waddle and sundry other defeated English footballers could testify.

However, on this occasion, the Head Coach’s Teutonic origins were of no help to his team, who displayed all the deadly accuracy and cool nerve of a bunch of baby hippos trying to perfect an ice-skating routine. First Sam Byram and then Chris Wood lashed penalties over the bar, with the Doncaster keeper sagging against a goalpost, helpless with laughter. Wood’s penalty, in particular, seemed to be headed into orbit, though rumours that it caused alarm aboard the International Space Station are thought to be nearly as wide of the mark as the penalty kick itself.

All of this has been received with a distinct lack of enthusiasm back in Rösler’s native land. Germans rightly pride themselves on their legendary accuracy from the penalty spot – they even have a regular football publication called Elfmeter, the German word for “penalty kick”. The fact that a team coached by a German could show such an alarming lack of ability when it comes to putting a ball somewhere in the 192 square feet of space under the bar and between the posts, is seen as genuinely shameful. There are, allegedly, even calls for Rösler to be stripped of his German nationality and regarded henceforth as English – the ultimate in nationalist insults, with the possible exception of being branded Polish.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a passionate football fan who has been known to listen to games while on official business in the Bundestag, was tight-lipped when asked to comment on the matter of Rösler’s ongoing status as a German citizen. “This is a matter for the relevant department of government”, she said, through tight lips. “However, I can certainly say that Herr Rösler would not be welcome anywhere near my team, FC Energie Cottbus. Now, don’t bother me – go and ask your Herr Cameron whether he follows Aston Villa, Burnley or West Ham this week.”

The Auswärtiges Amt, or German Foreign Office, was somewhat more helpful, pointing out that a German citizen who voluntarily serves in a foreign army (over and above compulsory military service) from 1 January 2000 may lose German citizenship unless permission is obtained from the German government. Their spokesperson went on: “This Department is now looking into the situation of Herr Rösler and his involvement with what is known as the YRA, or ‘Yorkshire’s Republican Army‘. A further statement may be issued when those investigations are complete.”

Franz Beckenbauer is 94.

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times, for Leeds Starlet Cook   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
For any lad that grows up supporting his local club, nursing the dream of one day turning out in that sacred shirt – and who actually makes that dream come true – there can be no sweeter moment than that precious first goal for the team he loves. Tonight, in the humble surroundings of Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, that longed-for moment arrived for Lewis Cook, when he stabbed home a rebound of the Donny ‘keeper to notch his first senior goal for Leeds United.

Sadly, the fairytale would have no happy ending. Leeds had already been pegged back thanks to Scott Wootton‘s agricultural challenge in the United area, leading to a Rovers penalty that stand-in guardian Ross Turnbull narrowly failed to save. And then came Cook’s moment of misery to erase his earlier joy. Surging down the right on a mazy run, the youngster took a slightly heavy touch, overstretched in his attempt to keep possession – and walked for a resulting foul that looked even worse than it was. Thanks to that mad moment, it would be ten-man Leeds for the rest of the piece, and a Yorkshire derby cup tie was ruined as a spectacle. 

The Doncaster fans in the crowd, eager to see the home team compass the demise of local favourites Leeds, were suitably encouraged and filled with hope – but for the remainder of ninety minutes plus extra time, Rovers showed no real sign of being able to dispatch their numerically weakened opponents. Indeed, for much of the rest of the tie, it was Leeds looking marginally more effective going forward. But in what became a war of attrition, neither side was able to land the telling blow, and the game trudged its inevitable way to deadlock and the dreaded shoot-out.

Ironically, Leeds’ two eventual lottery losers were the second half substitutes who had done most to rekindle some hope among the Leeds faithful that United could yet emerge winners. Chris Wood and Sam Byram had given an extra dimension to United’s stubborn rearguard action, and both showed plenty going forward to suggest how vital they will be in the season ahead. But their two penalties in the shootout – Byram’s only mildly awful, but Woods’ truly abysmal – cost Leeds a real chance of victory,  an unlikely chance that had been so ruggedly earned in the ten-man struggle following Cook’s first-half indiscretion.

So, Leeds are out of this competition again, to lower league opposition again, with ten men after having taken the lead, again – and in another derby as last season’s farce in Bradford was reprised only a little less farcically in Doncaster. And, really, what the hell. We were no more likely to win the League Cup than Rovers are now.

Few United fans will mourn such an early exit. It was not the defeat that rankled, more the manner of it. Another long struggle with ten men, with energy cruelly sapped ahead of a far more important game at the weekend. Head Coach Uwe Rösler had spoken prior to the match of taking the game to Rovers, an approach that is “in our DNA”. Fair enough, but it is the suicidal part of United’s genetic makeup that needs to be addressed, that fatal tendency to give away daft penalties and lose players to red cards through rash tackles. Herr Rösler has his work cut out to eliminate such innate, self-destructive traits. 

After the dust has settled on a night to forget, we must spare a thought for young Lewis Cook, for whom a magical moment, eagerly awaited for literally all his life, was so swiftly eclipsed by a rash and reckless lunge he’ll long regret. Fortunately, there is ample time and opportunity for redemption where one of United’s brightest prospects is concerned.

Lewis Cook undeniably has the talent and character that ensures he can and will bounce back, to forget tonight’s temporary woe and enjoy many more of the best of times, in the Leeds shirt he promises – transfer follies permitting – to grace for many years to come.