Luke Ayling heaps praise on club captain Liam Cooper

Since Marcelo Bielsa’s summer appointment as Leeds United manager, the Elland Road club have been transformed from an underachieving, mid-table Championship outfit into genuine promotion contenders.

The Whites are currently in the thick of a title race, and Premier League football next season – after a fifteen year wait – is a real possibility. The Argentine coach deserves great credit for this rapid progress, as he does for the scintillating football he’s brought to the Yorkshire club.

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However, his squad – which remains largely unchanged from last season’s group – deserves plenty of plaudits too. To a man, they’ve stepped up this season. Right-back Luke Ayling has paid tribute to one man in particular he feels has led the way on the pitch.

What he said

Speaking to LUTV, Ayling said of club captain Liam Cooper: “He’s been our captain and been a rock at the back. I think now players and fans are starting to see what a big player he is for us.”

Leader on the field 

Cooper has certainly been a key figure for the Whites this season. The 27-year-old centre-back has been a consistent starter when fit, and has forged an impressive partnership with Pontus Jansson in the heart of the Leeds defence.

The former Scotland under-19 international has led by example all year. He has fully committed himself to the intense, relentless, high pressure style of play instilled in the side by Bielsa and has often shown great character and leadership to defend stoutly and bravely when his side have come under pressure.  

Cooper is often overshadowed by the form of Jansson and the skipper took loads of stick for both his leadership qualities and his individual performances last season, but he deserves immense credit for his turnaround this campaign, credit that Ayling is clearly itching to give him.