Leeds had to fight from behind twice to earn a point at Swansea on Tuesday, but the performance of Gaetano Berardi should fill fans with a lot of confidence going forward.
Oliver McBurnie found the net twice on Tuesday night, as Leeds’ perfect start to life under Marcelo Biesla finally came to an end.
If you had offered the boss ten points from matches against Stoke, Derby, Rotherham and Swansea he would have certainly taken it, but the manner of the goals conceded may just be irking him for the remainder of this week.
The defence was all over the place for McBurnie’s first goal, and the striker had no one near him when he headed in a second after half time.
It is perhaps no surprise that the defence was a bit of a mess, with Jamie Shackleton, Luke Ayling and Berardi all playing in unfamiliar positions, but Berardi’s showing proved he is versatile enough to be Bielsa’s utility man this season.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”280645″ player=”12034″ title=”Rafa’s Pub Facts Dodgy De Gea & Arsenal’s MiniRevolution”]
The 30-year-old was not perfect, but filling in as a centre back he managed an incredible ten clearances, and won a colossal eight aerial duels. To put that in perspective, Ayling made just three clearances and won just two aerial duels.
Berardi has often been criticised for a lack of discipline, but he kept his cool on Tuesday, making two tackles and one interception.
The Swiss international was also tidy in possession, completing 85 per cent of his passes in a high-pressure match, while also completing four long balls, the most of any outfield player.
It is perhaps assumed that Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper will be the first choice pairing when they return to fitness, but Berardi’s performance will be giving the boss something to think about even when the natural centre backs return.
If Bielsa persists with the high-octane pressing all year, Berardi’s ability to play anywhere across the back four might just make him the most essential player in the squad as the injuries mount up.
So, Leeds fans, are you impressed by Berardi’s start to the season? Should he keep his place when Jansson and Cooper return? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…