Brian McDermott hit out at the Football Association after the governing body rejected Leeds United’s appeal against the red card shown to Matt Smith in Saturday’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
The striker will begin a three-match ban against Leicester City this weekend following Leeds’ failed attempt to rescind his dismissal, a decision McDermott called “very disappointing”.
Smith later took to Twitter to defend himself, saying his second-half foul on Wednesday captain Reda Johnson was an “honest” challenge which contained “no malice at all”.
But the FA’s refusal to overturn the sending off has given McDermott a fresh problem to deal with as the United manager contemplates his response to a 6-0 thrashing at Hillsborough.
Smith will miss Leeds’ meeting with Championship leaders Leicester and is also unavailable for forthcoming home matches against Ipswich Town and Huddersfield Town.
A frustrated McDermott, who last night insisted that his squad were ready to “move on” from their hammering by Wednesday, said: “I can’t understand why it wasn’t overturned.
“I’m sure they’ll have their reasons but there was no intent. He’s gone in, in a fair way, he bumped into the player and (Johnson) went down easy.
“I don’t believe the fracas afterwards was helpful with players from Sheffield Wednesday running a long way to get involved. I’m very disappointed with the outcome.”
Smith had been on the field for less than 60 seconds after entering the fray as a half-time substitute with Leeds trailing 2-0.
He caught Johnson beneath a high ball close to the halfway line and was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Probert.
Writing on Twitter, Smith said: “Extremely disappointed. Such a genuinely common and honest type of collision in a game. Eyes on ball, arms weren’t raised and no malice at all.”
Leeds are in the market for a new striker after failing last week with an attempt to sign Ashley Barnes from Brighton but Smith’s ban could give a rare chance to Noel Hunt, Luke Varney or Dominic Poleon.
McDermott is expected to change his formation after his side struggled to cope with a 3-4-3 set-up against Wednesday, slipping to the heaviest defeat by a Leeds team for 55 years.
United’s squad were called into Thorp Arch for an impromptu meeting on Sunday morning, an attempt by McDermott to restore calm and address the failings of Hillsborough.
“It was an open conversation and anyone could have their say,” McDermott said. “The meeting was very productive. I spoke to the senior players as well.
“The players had their say and I’ve always been the same way - they can have their say. I then said what I felt, how I saw things in the future and how things have to be.
“Five or six games ago we were fifth in the league and enjoying form as good as anyone in the country.
“That’s why you can never get too down and you can never get too carried away. That goes for now. If you want to, you can get as down as you want. But that’s not my character. The only thing we can do now is move on to the next game.”
United are 11th in the Championship after three successive league defeats.