Only one outcome looks right from Leeds United appeal to Pascal Struijk red card - Tony Dorigo

Tony Dorigo writes exclusively for the YEP on Leeds United's defeat to Liverpool, Pascal Struijk's challenge and the season so far.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 4:45 am

When an injury like Harvey Elliott’s occurs it really is upsetting for everyone on the pitch.

It’s never nice to see, especially for a young lad with a wonderful future - what a great talent he is.

The strange thing is that it was really an innocuous challenge, Pascal Struijk played the ball and it seemed to be momentum that caused the severity of the injury, but there was no malice.

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NO MALICE: But Leeds United's Pascal Struijk, centre, was still given his marching orders against Liverpool. Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images.

To see something like that was absolutely awful. I could see the angle of the foot was all wrong.

He very quickly got the best help possible, but it’s awful for him and for Struijk as well.

I was pleased to see a bit of class from Virgil van Dijk, who came and had a word with Struijk.

I’m sure that helped because he didn’t mean it, everyone understands that.

The referee allowed play to go on and then suddenly the red card was out.

It felt harsh because you look at a lot of challenges in that game, similar challenges in an intense game, and none of them resulted in any kind of injury.

Normally when you see a red card challenge the studs are off the ground and the player is out of control. Struijk’s was nothing like that.

It’s important that he keeps playing that same way, he’s an aggressive, strong player and winning the ball is the only thing in his mind.

He’s been exceptional and that is part of his game, winning the ball, so he was just doing what he’s trained to do but on this occasion the outcome was shocking and something no one wanted to see.

A suspension would be harsh, too and not just for Struijk but his club.

Robin Koch isn’t fit, Diego Llorente has a new injury and all of a sudden we’ve gone from a wonderful situation of choosing two from four to potentially having only one.

I just think the manner of the challenge meant an appeal was straightforward and right.

I’m not sure what the outcome can be other than it being rescinded, but let’s see.

The results of these things can fluctuate on how they’re interpreted.

As for Llorente, another niggle is hugely frustrating and I really do feel for him because I went through something similar towards the end of my Leeds United career as well.

Mine didn’t get cleared up. I kept pulling my hamstring, when it was a sacroiliac joint alignment issue and we didn’t really find out until it was too late.

I was in Torino by the time it got sorted.

Now the medical care is top notch, I’m sure they’ll get to the root of the problem and I hope Llorente gets it cleared up.

I think for someone like Llorente, coming to a new country, so desperate to start and help out, to be part of what’s going on, it must be difficult.

I remember Newcastle away last season when he was devastated to be coming off so early.

There’s a period where players have to get used to the training regime and the Premier League - Junior Firpo is in that transition as well right now - and it’s not easy.

Sometimes the body doesn’t adjust as you would like, as Barry Douglas hinted when he left.

If and when Bielsa has all four centre-backs fit, there are big decisions to be made.

Struijk has come on leaps and bounds and playing as he has done you would expect him to be in the side but he is a young man, he will have to be patient and wait because as we’ve seen, Marcelo is very loyal to the players he trusts.

There are plenty of examples of that - Patrick Bamford is one who people felt should come out of the side, Bielsa kept him in there and reaped the rewards of that last incredible season and a good start to this season.

Jack Harrison is a similar story. He was a little inconsistent but has been in there every week, got that confidence and raised his level. Rodrigo is one of those currently getting that backing.

Struijk isn’t quite there yet but he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and be patient, he’s on the right path.

He was playing well against Liverpool before the red card, but that decision did not decide Sunday’s result.

When I came to the ground I thought it could be just like the first game last season, end-to-end scintillating attacking football. That’s what it was. The first 15 minutes were breathless.

We had that chance through Rodrigo, a good chance at that.

Even when he controlled the ball there was no one two yards either side of him, he had so much time and it would have been 1-0.

But I thought by half-time we were quite fortunate only to be one behind.

Their front three were electric, very difficult to contain. I was impressed with their tempo and their pace.

The high press really made it difficult for us, it was what we like to do to sides. Fabinho was wonderful, mopping everything up.

The spirit was certainly there from Leeds, even at 2-0 down when Klopp was berating his side with a man up, because we were still looking to carve them open.

Ultimately though Liverpool were exceptional and the better team on the day won comfortably.

You do have to keep perspective, however.

With the fixtures playing out the way they are, you have to look where our fight is.

Of course we want to be fighting at the top of the league but that’s not where we are at this moment.

We’ve played two of the top four and lost to them, but not lost to the sides outside it.

Now we’re coming into a stretch of fixtures that holds our fight.

It is not a huge surprise that we are where we are, but we have to really push on now.

Newcastle is a team that will hopefully be below us come the end of the season.

We dealt with them quite well last season, let’s hope it’s the same on Friday night.

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Thank you Laura Collins