COPING with adversity has pretty much gone with the territory as far as Patrick Kisnorbo is concerned in recent years.
And with 2011-12 still in its infancy it’s a case of plus ca change for the big Aussie defender, who after putting his well-documented injury hell behind him, is now suffering from hard times along with the rest of his team-mates following Leeds United’s troubled start to the Championship campaign.
Kisnorbo, who suffered a potentially career-threatening Achilles injury against Millwall in March 2010, is now drawing on his reservoirs of mental strength following United’s worst start to a season in 31 years.
With the state of the defence having been pilloried by many supporters for the best part of 12 months, it’s a tough time in particular for United’s in-the-line-of-fire rearguard and they needed the chaotic on-pitch events against Middlesbrough on Saturday like a hole in the head.
Officialdom ruled in a big way as man-in-black Anthony Taylor stole the limelight in a jobsworth display of refereeing in the 1-0 home reverse to Boro.
The net consequence is that United are left to administer plasters to an already thin squad ahead of tonight’s high-octane home derby with Hull City, with skipper Jonathan Howson and another ‘big-hitter’ in Max Gradel suited and booted in the stands after being dismissed against the Teessiders.
With off-the-field protests from United’s hot-and-bothered supporters adding to the sense of restlessness, it’s a time for players to dig deep, which those left on the pitch in the final half-hour against Boro did, to a man.
The visitor’s numerical advantage may have ultimately told, but the nine-men gave every last drop for the Whites cause after Howson’s dismissal and even managed to apply some late pressure and you sensed that an equaliser would have brought the house down on a heated afternoon at LS11.
As a starting point for a fightback, the esprit de corps United showed was commendable and they will need it again in abundance tonight against the Tigers.
Kisnorbo, who has got three matches under his belt in the past week to boost his match fitness, said: “We’ve two more missing (for the Hull game), with Luciano (Becchio) and Dave (Somma) also injured and we’ve got our backs against the wall a bit. But, at the end of the day, I’m sure the players that come in will do a great job and I’m confident they will do that.
“We played with nine men for half-an-hour on Saturday and could have folded, but we showed great determination and we could have even nicked one, but it was not to be.
“It was a bitter-sweet day. We actually did okay with nine men, but we got nothing for effort at the end of the day. But we’ll be back to 11 on Tuesday and we’ve got to take the positives from the game; we must.
”Both our players who were sent off went at crucial times and it was hard for us. I think we were on top of them before our two sending-offs, but once that happens the game changes.
“Unfortunately, that’s what sometimes happens in football and you have to deal with things that get thrown at you.
“Considering what we went through, I thought the lads showed a lot of determination and team spirit and we can only look to Tuesday now.
“Personally, it was another 90 minutes and me and the physios are doing everything I can for me to play as many games as I feel good and fit.”
Specifically on the performance of Cheshire official Taylor on Saturday, who certainly won’t exactly be welcomed back to Elland Road with open arms, Kisnorbo added: “To be honest, I don’t think Max deserved a yellow card for the first incident. He was just going for the ball, nothing malicious, and the same with the second one. There was no intent to hurt him.
“I don’t think their guy (Tony McMahon) deserved a second yellow either and he just evened that out. The ref sees what he sees and you have to just deal with it – they are only human and are put under pressure.
“I’m not here to criticise the ref and I felt we dealt with things well and we’ll pick ourselves up and prepare for Tuesday.”
On the somewhat acrimonious atmosphere, which saw many supporters vent their frustration in the direction of chairman Ken Bates before and during the game, he added: “As footballers, you get on with things. At the end of the day, we’re here to play football and try to bring results and play the best we can for ourselves and the coaching staff and supporters.”
An Antipodean reunion of sorts saw Kisnorbo meet up with a few Aussie mates on the opposing side of the pitch on Saturday, in the shape of fellow Melbournian Scott McDonald and Boro utility man Rhys Williams, who hails from Perth, with the visiting pair taking the bragging rights.
Both Boro stars featured in Australia’s friendly game against Wales in Cardiff last week and, despite his advancing years, Kisnorbo, 30 – called up to train with the side in a non-playing role ahead of June’s friendly with Serbia – isn’t throwing in the towel regarding his international career.
The centre-half, capped 18 times by his country with his last appearance coming back in November 2009, said: “It was a great to see Scott and Rhys Williams.
“Being injured I haven’t seen them for a while and it’s good to see they are doing well for their clubs, although it would have obviously been nice to have won!
“I’ll never give up on my international career. You never know. I just want to do well for Leeds and the rest will take care of itself.
“There were one or two Aussies also here as well on Saturday, which was nice.
“There was a family here who have got their boys in the Leeds Academy at under-nine level and they will find out next week if they are going to stay.
“It’s fantastic for Australian football that kids of that age are coming over to clubs in England.”