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Ridsdale lifts lid on Leeds players' O'Leary clash

Former Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale say David O'Leary must shoulder the blame for the club's meltdown.

Ridsdale, in his book 'United We Fall', claims O'Leary must shoulder the lion's share of the blame for the meltdown at Leeds after TEN players refused to play for him.

Ridsdale is adamant O'Leary failed to realise just how deep the resentment was against him after he released his own 'tell-all' book while in charge.

It began when O'Leary, who is being linked to replace Steve Staunton as Republic of Ireland manager, dropped keeper Paul Robinson.

The current England No 1, now at Spurs, was in the team and playing out of his skin but was dumped in favour of Nigel Martyn.

Ridsdale reveals: "The first crack was just before our FA Cup game against Liverpool in January 2001.

"As the team left our hotel for the short trip to Elland Road, I saw Paul Robinson looking thunderous and close to tears.

"I hurried up to him and tried grabbing his arm to ask what was wrong.

"'Don't talk to me now', he said, 'but I'll tell you this - I'll never play for that b*****d again'. Paul was young and still learning but one thing was true - he never did play for the manager again.

"Managers often have spats with players but, in such a closely-knit dressing room and involving such a popular young member of the squad, this seemed like the first red flag being raised from a spirited dressing room."

He added: "It galled me to see O'Leary promoting his book Leeds United on Trial, which came out in January 2002. He broke the sacrosanct code of the dressing room by criticising players.

"From my chairman's office I could almost hear the team's respect breaking up.

"O'Leary denied there was a dressing-room revolt.

"But towards the end of the season a senior player asked to see me in my office and he said 'Mr Ridsdale, unless you change the manager I won't sign a new contract. I also feel I represent the mood of most of the dressing room, the lads have lost it with the gaffer'.

"Lee Bowyer, Danny Mills, Rio Ferdinand all criticised the manager for washing dirty linen in public.

"The manager's book was the cause and effect of the crisis that sent the club over the edge. Ten players, either directly or indirectly through their agents, said they'd be looking to move elsewhere if David O'Leary remained as manager for the 2002-03 season."

Ridsdale reckons the sale of Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United also exposed O'Leary as being unable to cope with controversy.

He writes: "At the board meeting EVERYONE, including the manager, agreed a valuation of £30million for Ferdinand.

"In public, David distanced himself from such reality by describing the proposed sale as criminal. Whenever there was the slightest whiff of controversy or bad press, David ran a mile."

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Tribal Football Staff

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