Leeds United battled their way to a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Sunderland at Elland Road yesterday which was a decent result considering the club’s continued defensive woes. Leeds handed Paudie O’Connor his debut for the club, whilst Stuart Dallas reverted to a full-back role once again.
With that in mind, the performances of experienced defenders Pontus Jansson and Gaetano Berardi were key to any success Leeds were going to find.
The latter had a game of little consequence, until the final few minutes. For reasons unbeknownst to the Leeds faithful, the Swiss general flew into a double-footed lunge on Callum McManaman in the 89th minute and was shown a straight red card by the referee.
It was a simple decision to make and a moment of rash stupidity from Leeds’ experienced defender.
Berardi is a massive fan favourite at Leeds and rightly so. His attitude is often exemplary and he wears his heart on his sleeve. A classic hardman, Berardi is something of a throwback and Leeds fans have certainly accepted him as one of their own.
But the red card yesterday was just another example of Berardi letting Leeds down.
It was a needless challenge and one which left Leeds battling for the final moments of the game with ten men. Berardi, who was captaining the side, needed to do better by his teammates than getting himself sent off the field of play.
Not only was this a mistake that could have cost Leeds a point yesterday, but it also could damage them going forward. Berardi, like the rest of the Leeds camp, knows there is a defensive shortage. He will now serve a suspension which makes Paul Heckingbottom’s job even harder.
It was not the first time Berardi did something like this in 2018. He received a needless double booking against Cardiff City in February when Leeds were in the midst of another defensive crisis. Overall it is his third red card of the season and some Leeds fans have had enough.
His popularity is waning with these moments of madness and Berardi needs to find some tranquillity if he is to remain one of the Leeds faithful’s favourites.