Christiansen had Leeds United players’ backing, says Pennington

Thomas Christiansen greets former Leeds United boss Neil Warnock at Elland Road on Saturday.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Thomas Christiansen greets former Leeds United boss Neil Warnock at Elland Road on Saturday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Defender Matthew Pennington had urged Leeds United to keep faith with Thomas Christiansen and resist any “finger-pointing” before the club’s head coach was dismissed on Sunday night.

Pennington spoke out in defence of Christiansen after a 4-1 rout at the hands of Cardiff City on Saturday piled fatal pressure on the 44-year-old’s shoulders.

Matthew Pennington limps out of Leeds' victory at Bolton Wanderers on the first day of the season.

Matthew Pennington limps out of Leeds' victory at Bolton Wanderers on the first day of the season.

Christiansen faced questions about his future and was forced to defend his record in the wake of another damaging league result which came at the cost of a further red card and an injury suffered by centre-back Pontus Jansson.

Gaetano Berardi was sent off late in the first half with Leeds trailing 2-0, his second dismissal of the season and United’s fourth in five games, and Cardiff resisted the brief threat of a fightback after the interval before wrapping up a resounding win.

Christiansen came in for criticism from a home crowd of over 30,000 after replacing striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga with Hadi Sacko towards the end of the game, prompting chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’.

Elland Road was half empty by the time Anthony Pilkington scored Cardiff’s fourth goal on 88 minutes.

He’s a good manager and the players are all behind him. We don’t want finger-pointing. We have to stick together. We’ll get back in and we have to recover.

Leeds United defender Matthew Pennington before Thomas Christiansen’s dismissal

United responded to the heavy loss by ending Christiansen’s reign yesterday evening, attempting to salvage their Championship play-off bid with 16 matches of the season remaining.

Speaking after Saturday’s loss, Pennington admitted that the current run of six league games without a win had been “tough to handle” but gave his backing to Christiansen, saying: “He’s a good manager and the players are all behind him.

“We don’t want finger-pointing. We have to stick together. We’ll get back in and we have to recover.

“We need every member to put in 100 per cent effort. We’ve got a depleted squad with the red cards but we have to move on.

“We’re going through a tough patch and it’s tough to handle. The fans pay good money and deserve better than we gave them.”

Jansson could be set for an extended spell of in the sidelines after being stretchered off with an ankle injury in the first half of Saturday’s game, increasing a long list of absentees at Leeds.

The Sweden international was due to undergo a scan yesterday amid concerns that he damaged ankle ligaments in an off-the-ball collision with Cardiff defender Sol Bamba.

Christiansen all but ruled him out of this weekend’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United, saying: “He had an injury in the ankle and I don’t believe he will be ready for the next game.”

Leeds’ disciplinary record has imploded over the past month with red cards shown to Berardi, Samuel Saiz, Eunan O’Kane and Liam Cooper.

Berardi, who was sent off for a headbutt away at Bristol City in October, was dismissed on the stroke of half-time on Saturday for a second bookable offence, a foul on new Cardiff signing Gary Madine – the former Sheffield Wednesday striker.

Christiansen had battled to address a costly streak of dismissals and Pennington admitted he was at a loss to explain them, saying: “Another red card is sad for us.

“ I don’t know why it’s all happening. It’s strange.

“But the game’s gone now and we look to the Sheffield match. I’m confident about that.

“We’ve got a decent away record but we need to stay in the game for the first 30 minutes. If we do that we’ll turn it around but we need to improve.”