Leeds and their owner Andrea Radrizzani have slammed pundit Karen Carney for claiming the club only won promotion to the Premier League ‘because of Covid’.
Carney, a former England Women’s footballer with 144 international caps, was speaking during Amazon Prime Sport’s coverage of Leeds’ clash against West Brom and said that Marcelo Bielsa’s side were aided by the Covid hiatus in March.
Leeds, who won the Championship last season with 93 points, responded to Carney’s comments via Twitter by poking fun at her words after she claimed the suspension of the league gave the team ‘respite’ – boasting how they had won the league by 10 points to end a 16-year absence from the top flight.
Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani (above) has hit out at Karen Carney for claiming the club were only promoted to the Premier League ‘because of Covid’
Carney (left) claimed Marcelo Bielsa’s side benefited from the Covid-19 hiatus earlier this year
Leeds responded to Carney’s claims on Twitter in a move that has itself been criticised
Carney, who was targeted by trolls on social media afterwards, had said on Tuesday night: ‘They (Leeds) out-run everyone and credit to them. My only concern would be, “would they blow up at the end of the season?”
‘We saw that in the last couple of seasons and I actually think they got promoted because of Covid in terms of it gave them a bit of respite. I don’t know whether they would have gone up if they didn’t have that break.’
After Leeds had posted their response, Radrizzani admitted he was ‘responsible’ for the tweet, insisting he wanted to defend the club after her ‘disrespectful’ comments.
He wrote in a post on his own Twitter account: ‘I take the responsibility of the Club tweet. I consider that comment completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our Club and particularly to the fantastic hard work of our players and coaches whom were understanding on the pitch for the last two championship seasons by all stats.’
Radrizzani defended the tweet by claiming Carney’s comments were ‘disrespectful’ to the club
Marcelo Bielsa’s (left) Whites won last season’s Championship title by ten points
Carney won 144 caps for England – the third highest ever – and now works as a pundit
The Italian businessman was not the only member of the Leeds camp to condemn the comment made by Carney – as Leeds players made their feelings clear on social media.
Midfielder Mateusz Klich and defender Ben White – who was on loan at Elland Road last season – posted emojis below the club’s response to signal their opposition to her views.
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling also chimed in, criticising Carney for a lack of accuracy in her claims.
In the five games before the first coronavirus lockdown, Leeds won every single game without conceding a single goal. Bielsa’s side even lost the first game after the coronavirus hiatus against Cardiff City, implying Leeds did not benefit from a break at all.
Carney was criticised for the comments by Leeds players and Sky Sports’ Jeff Stelling (above)
Stelling tweeted: ‘Leeds so lucky that Covid intervened. They had only won five in a row before the season was suspended. Clearly running out of steam !!!’
Leeds fans piled on with one Twitter user posting: ‘She’s really not helping the cause of female pundits is she?’ followed by a laughing emoji while another tweeted: ‘And they wonder why women pundits get such a bad reputation ..embarrassing.’
There was also one which read: ‘Oh dear lord, she really shouldn’t be reporting on football, what a ridiculous thing to actually say particularly out loud on TV.’
But some decided to step in and leap to Carney’s defence after Leeds’ post, with former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand urging them to delete it, while others claimed it only encouraged the ‘vile abuse’ from other fans.
‘Poor from the @LUFC social team,’ wrote one fan. ‘Trying to embarrass a hard-working pundit who will now be subject to vile abuse from #LUFC fans! Disgrace.’
Another wrote: ‘This is disgusting. Leeds United should be ashamed. Clubs shouldn’t directly target people like this, especially when it’s just routine punditry. The replies are what would be expected.
Some supporters have criticised Radrizzani and Leeds for ‘targeting’ Carney on social media
Many – including Rio Ferdinand (above) criticised Leeds for calling out on Carney on Twitter
Manager Bielsa is known for his hard-working training regimes and in-game tactics, which Carney paid tribute to in her coverage.
However, the Leeds boss has often been attributed with the phrase ‘Bielsa Burnout’ which stems from the Chilean coach’s teams running out of steam due to fatigue.
An example was during the 2014-15 season with Marseille where the French side lead the league after 19 games, with OM being branded the ‘autumn champions’ that season. Bielsa’s side went on to finish fourth after a steep drop in form.
Bielsa’s Leeds are performing well in their first season back in the top-flight since 2004, with three wins in four games – including a 5-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday – lifting them up to 11th in the table and 12 points above the relegation zone.