Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani doubled down on the club’s criticism of former England Women’s international Karen Carney by “taking responsibility” for an ill-advised post from the club’s official Twitter account that resulted in several abusive messages being sent to her.
Amazon Prime Video pundit Carney, a former Lionesses international with 144 caps to her name, suggested that Leeds benefitted from the Covid-19-enforced pause on football last season, which gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side a much-needed rest given their issue with burning out the season before.
It is a criticism of Bielsa’s style of football that has been lobbied at the Argentine before, with his demanding tactics sometimes leading to burnout in the later stages of a campaign. The same appeared to occur when his Marseille team dropped from first to fourth in Ligue 1 despite leading the way after 19 games.
However, after the three-month suspension of the 2019/20 season, Leeds went on to secure the Championship title and seal promotion to the Premier League with a points tally of 93 — 10 more than nearest rivals West Bromwich Albion.
“They (Leeds) out-run everyone and credit to them,” Carney said on pre-match coverage of Leeds’ game against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night. “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.”
Fellow Amazon pundit and former Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink agreed with Carney’s assessment, but a club staff member took umbrage with the suggestion and, following Leeds’ impressive 5-0 victory over West Brom, they reposted the video on their Twitter account to poke fun at the comments.
The post, which went out to more than 663,000 followers, led to a ‘pile-on’ of abuse aimed at Carney, and drew criticism from several within the sport, including former Leeds and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand who called for the post to be deleted.
However, after being tagged in a post criticising the poor joke, club chairman Andrea Radrizzani accused Carney of making “completely unnecessary and disrespectful” comments towards the Premier League side.
He said: “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.”
Several Leeds players backed Radrizzani’s response, with midfielder Mateusz Klich and defender Ben White – who was on loan at Leeds last season from Brighton – issuing emoji responses on Twitter to laugh at Carney’s comments.
Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling also added his voice to criticism of Carney, with the veteran broadcasters saying: “Leeds so lucky that Covid intervened. They had only won five in a row before the season suspended. Clearly running out of steam!!!”
However, rather than disagree with Carney, several Leeds fans posted abusive and sexually discriminatory comments aimed at Carney.