Pundit singles out surprise Chelsea star for lacking leadership at key moment

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Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher has received some slightly surprising criticism from pundit Garth Crooks for failing to show enough leadership during the recent penalty row we saw at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea thrashed Everton 6-0 in their Premier League clash last week, but it was marred by a bizarre incident that saw a few players appearing to fight with Cole Palmer to take a penalty in the second half.

Writing in his BBC Sport column, Crooks was far from impressed with Gallagher for not doing more in that situation to stamp his authority down and talk some sense into his squabbling teammates.

Gallagher has mostly been a top performer and leader on the pitch for Chelsea this season, but perhaps he could have done more in this situation to stop things boiling over the way they did, and a more experienced captain might have been stronger.

Still, it also seems a bit harsh from Crooks to single Gallagher out when the blame surely mostly lies with players like Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke themselves.

Gallagher slammed for lacking leadership in Chelsea penalty row

Discussing the incident, Crooks said: “When I watched the game between Chelsea and Everton last Monday, I was keen to acknowledge their six-goal triumph and the extraordinary performance of Cole Palmer. Whenever a team has a night like that, and let’s face it Chelsea haven’t had a night like that for some considerable time, nothing should be allowed to overshadow it.

“However, the incident surrounding their 64th-minute penalty, with team-mates trying to wrestle the ball from each other to take a spot-kick in order to obtain a cheap goal for themselves, needs some perspective.

“The incident was something straight out of the school playground, and certainly not worthy of a Premier League fixture. Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson are two young Chelsea players who know how to play football, but clearly they haven’t been taught how to conduct themselves.

Conor Gallagher of Chelsea

“It was their squabbling that created the unedifying spectacle in the first place. The captain on the night, Conor Gallagher, showed a distinct lack of leadership by not being much more assertive and acting far sooner by admonishing the two protagonists and taking control of the situation. If he had done, Palmer wouldn’t have had to get embroiled in a pushing match in order for him, the official penalty taker, to eventually convert the spot-kick.

“One thing that has never changed in the game is the bigger the club, the more you need senior players to control those who get too much too soon. If not, some footballers forget that they are ‘professionals’, and the weight of responsibility that comes with it. When that happens, then it is incumbent on the club to step in and remind them – with heavy fines if necessary.”

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