Palmer outburst fuels Leeds crisis

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The Independent Online

Leeds United had hoped to be parading the Coca-Cola Cup yesterday. Instead, in the wake of Sunday's crushing defeat by Aston Villa at Wembley, they were a club in crisis, with Carlton Palmer criticising his team-mates and Tomas Brolin declaring his wish to leave.

At the start of transfer deadline week, there was a distinct whiff of burning bridges about Palmer's outburst. The former England midfielder, a pounds 2.7m signing from Sheffield Wednesday two years ago, said: "In my opinion, the lack of effort shown by professional players in as big a game as this final was nothing short of disgraceful.

"I didn't play well but at least I competed. I tried. If people can come off at the end of a game and say that, well fine, but I don't think there were many who could. Our best player was young Andy Gray, and that says it all."

Palmer also denounced as "a disgrace" the abuse directed by some Leeds supporters at the manager, Howard Wilkinson, at the end of the match. "I was disappointed with the treatment he received, because he didn't deserve it. It was down to a group of players who didn't perform."

For Brolin, the Swedish World Cup striker whose role was restricted to that of a late substitute, the final may also prove to be his swan-song as a Leeds player. The pounds 4.5m recruit from Parma said: "I don't know where my future lies now. I wanted to play on Sunday, but the manager thinks his way and I think mine. Perhaps we should go our separate ways."

Brolin added: "I have to go away and think about my future and whether I want to play for Leeds. The way I feel at the moment, I think I must try to find another team."

Leslie Silver, the Leeds chairman, pointed out that Brolin is under contract to the club and suggested it might help if he "talked less and played more". Brolin has a get-out clause with Leeds whereby he can leave if the club receive an offer of a pre-determined figure.

Silver said that both Wilkinson and his wife had been "deeply hurt" by the criticism, but intimated that the Leeds manager is intent on riding out the current turmoil. Leeds, 12th in the Premiership, play Middlesbrough at home on Saturday.

Brian Laws, the Grimsby manager, has finally been charged by the Association, six weeks after the alleged dressing-room incident that left Ivano Bonetti nursing a fractured jaw.

The club, who resisted pressure for Laws' resignation, reportedly fined him two weeks' wages after he publicly made his peace with the injured player. However, after receiving Bonetti's version of events, the FA is now to take disciplinary action.

Charlton have tabled a pounds 500,000 offer for the Bolton striker John McGinlay. Birmingham are close to signing Swansea's Welsh midfielder John Cornforth for pounds 350,000, while the Middlesbrough striker Paul Wilkinson is having talks with Portsmouth.