Following Leeds United’s 5-0 romp over West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, former England women’s team stalwart Karen Carney claimed that the North Yorkshire team, promoted to the Premier League this season, might have benefitted from the COVID-19 break that helped players recharge. Leeds play an energy sapping high-press game.
The club however, did not take kindly to Carney’s take. Its social media team took an 18-second clip of her comments and uploaded it on their Twitter handle, zooming in to keep her face as the central image, adding the caption: “‘Promoted because of Covid’ Won the league by 10 points.”
The post led to a barrage of online trolls hurling abuse at Carney. The comments were mostly sexist in nature, and questioned the holder of 144 England caps’ reading of the game.
Carney ended up deleting her Twitter account on Friday.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 29, 2020
During the post-match analysis for the Amazon Prime Sport’s coverage, Carney was asked about Leeds United’s high-press game.
“(Leeds) outrun 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 (to the Premier League) if they didn’t have that break.”
Carney’s thoughts were based on manager Marcelo Biesla’s tactics, nicknamed ‘Biesla ball.’ It involves direct attacking play, at a high pace while keeping possession of the ball.
The playing style
There have been cases in the past where the veteran Argentine manager’s style has resulted in a quick and fruitful start to a campaign but led to a slump towards the end. It happened when he was coach of Olympique Marseille in the 2014-15 season.
Similarly, in his first season (2018-19) in charge at Leeds United, in the English Championship (2nd division), his team was in the lead till the 32nd match day (out of 46) and then dropped down to third. This meant Leeds had to compete against Derby County in a playoff to gain promotion, which it lost.
As for the 2019-20 season, Bielsa’s team had a stronger start and were in the lead on March 7, before the season was halted because of the pandemic. They briefly dropped to second after losing their first match on June 21 after play resumed, but then went on an eight-match unbeaten run, finishing with six successive wins, and winning the title by 10 points.
Trolls targeting Carney challenged her legitimacy as a pundit, despite the fact that the former Chelsea and Arsenal player had won 144 England caps and was part of the national team that reached the semi-final of two successive World Cups, finishing third in 2015. Most of the abuse, however, was sexist in nature. “Get back in the kitchen” or “put her mic down and get (herself) home there’s dishes to wash and clothes to iron” were some of the kinder messages.
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
— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) December 29, 2020
Following criticism, the club’s owner Andrea Radrizzani posted a message in support of the team’s post that called out Carney.
He tweeted: “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 who were understanding on the pitch for the last two championship seasons by all stats.”
On Wednesday however, the club backtracked a bit and issued a statement condemning the abuse Carney had been receiving. The video, however, has not been taken down.
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