Leeds United: Conditions ripe for Whites to kick-on insists Berardi

Gaetano Berardi
Gaetano Berardi
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This, for Leeds United, has been a steady first month and if the club break a couple of trends by winning at Derby County on Saturday, Gaetano Berardi will agree to class it as a good, healthy start.

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The Swiss defender can know little about United’s history at Pride Park and the Elland Road club rarely dine out there.

But the squad at Leeds have the bit between their teeth ahead of their latest visit.

Sol Bamba, Uwe Rosler’s captain, admitted last weekend that he was craving a victory after four draws from as many league games. It is, according to Bamba, the next step which could help move Leeds onto “great things” this season.

Berardi agrees with him. “We need to win that game,” the right-back said yesterday. And for Rosler, the attitude of his players ticks the right box. “It makes me happy,” United’s head coach admitted. “The desire is absolutely there.”

Rosler’s side have twice been within touching distance of a Championship win. Points thrown away during creditable displays against Burnley and Bristol City have left them 15th in a very raw Championship table; the same ranking that Leeds have been stuck with at the end of each of the past two seasons.

Berardi accepts that United were in a position to beat Burnley and should never have allowed a two-goal lead to slip away in the final seven minutes at Ashton Gate. “We lost a little bit of concentration in the last minutes,” he said, “but this is the Championship and the football in it, you can draw or loses matches like that.

“Next time we could win them. And if you lose a (2-0 lead) you should always get a draw. Every game is different.

“We aren’t so happy because we could have had a few points more but we didn’t lose any games and that is positive. Now we have to put ourselves into Saturday’s game and win this game. If we win we can say that we are in a good position. We can say it’s been a good start and a good month. But we need to win this game.”

The club and their owner, Massimo Cellino, wait patiently for new signings – specifically a deal for Fernando Forestieri who has dragged his heels over a move to Elland Road all week and is now the subject of renewed interest from Sheffield Wednesday – but Rosler will be helped by the return of some cavalry tomorrow.

Lewis Cook is back after a three-match ban and Luke Murphy, on the evidence of an appearance for United’s development squad on Monday night, is ready to be considered for selection from the start.

With two in-form strikers and a backline which kept Sheffield Wednesday quiet last weekend, the midfield is where Rosler’s choices can have most impact at Pride Park. Attack might be the best form of defence at a ground where Leeds have lost seven games on the bounce since 2007 and paid for a negative performance last season.

Berardi has been part of Rosler’s policy of squad rotation, featuring in every game so far but named on the bench for Leeds’ 2-2 draw at Bristol City. The ex-Sampdoria right-back, who improved gradually in his first year at Elland Road, has looked comfortable again and said Rosler’s attention on fitness and conditioning in pre-season helped him improve.

“He likes more conditioning for the players and running in every training session, every day,” Berardi said. “He likes ‘heavy metal’ play. We can do very well if we go that way.

“The Championship is difficult. If you are in good condition, Italian players (foreign players) can play without a problem. If you don’t have good condition then it’s very difficult. I’ve improved my running, my mentality and physically.

“When we started pre-season, (Rosler) told me that I have to put in everything every day. I needed more power, more conditioning. And I feel good.”

Berardi has also settled into his preferred position after switching between the left and right sides of defence last season. The form and physique of Charlie Taylor – “a machine” as Rosler called the 21-year-old on Saturday – has sewn up the left-back slot and freed Berardi from that role.

“I’m calmer now because I’m playing at right-back, in my position,” Berardi said. “I’m there every game and I need to stay in this position. I need to stay this way – hard work every day and in every match.

“I didn’t play against Bristol City but I spoke with the coach and he told me that I needed to recover.

“Four matches in two weeks is maybe difficult for some players. Some players recover faster than others. But in the next game I played and other players changed too, like (Giuseppe) Bellusci. These are decisions for the coach to make.”

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