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21 Sep 2015 06:30pm, by Shields53

Gaetano Berardi was one of Massimo Cellino’s influx of overseas signings during the summer of 2014. As with all of those signings there was an air of mystery around them, they were unknown quantities, their success or failure to many was an indicator of how Cellino’s tenure in charge of Leeds United. Tuesday 12th August was the chance for Berardi to prove his worth, his debut coming in David Hockaday’s first competitive win against Accrington Stanley in the League Cup. It may have been the Hocks first win but I will remember that game more for Berardi’s 89th minute kung-fu kick and resulting red card.

Berardi was suspended for the next three games as a result of his martial arts, after missing a further two games through injury he made his return to the team against Birmingham. Only two games later however he saw red again against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road, this time for a second yellow card. A further two game suspension followed. Leeds fans have always liked players with a bit of steel but with two red cards in only four games Berardi was looking like a bit of a liability.

After a run of games under Darko Milanic he fell out of favour when Neil Redfearn took over, only returning to the squad consistently in March 2015 against Wigan after the sale of Stephen Warnock and an injury to Liam Cooper. He featured at left back for the remainder of the season with Charlie Taylor playing ahead of him on the left wing. It seemed that Redfearn, despite not having played Berardi was an admirer of the Swiss defender. Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post he said;

“I’m impressed with him. Not everybody sees how he is through the week but he’s an ultimate professional. He’s never a minute’s problem. He works hard every day, he understands when you change things around but when he gets into the team, he goes in and does a job. He’s got that aggression about him, a competitive edge. Sometimes he runs a bit close to the edge but he can play. He’s a good footballer. He can pass and he’s got a turn of pace. His aggression can be his strength and his weakness. He’s ultra-competitive and he’s a full-back who lets a winger know he’s in a game. You want to harness that but the discipline side is important too because you want him on the pitch.”

Berardi was somewhat redeemed at the end of 2014/2015, not a single yellow card in his last fourteen games of the season. Come 2015/2016 and it seems he has another admirer in Uwe Rosler, Berardi had started all eight games of the season at his favoured right back up until MK Dons on Saturday when he was on the bench. In those eight games Berardi has picked up only one yellow card and has arguably been one of the most consistent players this season. Yesterday his form was rewarded with a new two year contract extension keeping him at the club until 2018. On signing the new deal Berardi said;

“I’m very happy here, the city and everything is very good. We are a team this season after many changes last season. We are a very good group together, that is important. Last season the first two or three months were difficult for me and for the other new players. This time I started the pre-season and that is very important. My body is better and I feel fitter. I have been playing right-back, which is my position. We are playing well with the full-backs in every game. I hope to stay in this position through hard work every day and hard work every match.”

From liability to one of the first names on the team sheet, reputation restored Berardi is now a key member of the team and his signing of a new deal is extremely welcome news.

21 Sep 2015 12:20pm, by Gary Shaw

It is almost inevitable that every fan of Leeds United will have different expectations/targets that they expect Uwe Rosler to achieve. Some seem to expect Uwe Rosler to get Leeds into the top 6, others top half etc and some fans don't really have any specific targets for Rosler. In my opinion there are 7 things Uwe Rosler must do, for this season to be classed as a success and most importantly progress on the last 4 seasons. These are;

1. Improve the style of football
The best football Leeds have played in the last few years surprisingly was between September and November 2014 under Neil Redfearn and Darko Milanic. Although results didn't go our way all the time Leeds put in some good performances and played against some of the top teams from last season. There were games against Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Rotherham where we played very well but the small margins went against us and we didn't win any of those three. Of course there were some games where we played badly, however the football we played against Bournemouth and Huddersfield during this spell was fantastic to watch and the best I had seen for years. Unfortunately the style appeared to have changed under Redfearn and has not changed back so far under Rosler. The main style now appears to be a long ball from Cooper, Bamba or Silvestri to Chris Wood and most of the time it hasn't worked well. A more possession based style would be nice to watch along with more efforts at goal, that should in my opinion be one of Uwe's first aims, it won't happen overnight I admit but it should be achievable by January.

2. Find Our Best Formation
We have so far tried 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. I have mentioned 3-5-2 a few times along with 4-2-3-1, something which I criticised Redfearn for last season was that it took him too long in my opinion to stop using the 4-4-2 or trying something different to the 4-4-2 (with 4 central midfielders being played rather than 2 central midfielders and 2 wingers.) When Redfearn did test formations results improved and he found his best formation and we improved results wise after this as well. I am not sure what our best formation is but I am not sure we have found it yet.

3. Start our Young Stars
Murphy, Mowatt and Cook need to start games together, the feature of last season was that from January onwards these three where often in the same side and results improved with these 3 being a huge part of that. So far, Mowatt and Murphy have been on the bench a couple of times with Tom Adeyemi starting instead. The three started together on Saturday and we won, I hope Tom Adeyemi will improve and I think he will but at the moment those three should be starting games together instead in my opinion.

4. Don't let Jordan Botaka Disappear into Obscurity
Last season Leeds signed a player who was nicknamed the heir to Zico, Adryan. Then we played Birmingham City away and I was amazed that he didn't play or make his debut on that day. In fact he didn't start playing for Leeds until October and at first he played superbly and became one of our key players. However, after a few bad games before new year, things changed, after new year Adryan very rarely played for Leeds. Jordan Botaka, is another player who appears a very good talent and hopefully he will be a success. However, I can't believe he is yet to make his debut (exactly as I was with Adryan last year), it's following the same pattern as it did for Adryan. Lessons from the Adryan loan deal that we can use for making Botaka a good signing: at least give him some game time to start with and put him in the starting 11 if others don't perform and bad results allow us to make the changes, play the player where their best position is and don't leave him out of the match day squad if he has a few bad games etc. I felt sorry for Adryan last season and I thought he did ok at Leeds.

5. Get more service to Chris Wood
I think if Rosler tells Berardi and Taylor to get forward more often Chris Wood will get more chances. Sam Byram and Stuart Dallas are a little out of form but will improve in my opinion. Botaka as mentioned before could help solve this problem as well.

6. Have a Cup Run
Cup runs are fantastic and I think we should be looking to get into at least the 5th round or quarter finals of the FA Cup (if we have a nice cup draw). I think we should put our full team out, other teams will probably not do this and that will give us a huge chance to have a good FA Cup run.

7. Always ensure Leeds are closer to the top 6 than the bottom 3.
The Championship is very competitive, win a couple of games and you can be looking at the play-offs. Lose a couple and you could get dragged into a relegation battle. While promotion may not be a realistic prospect this season we do not need to get dragged into another relegation battle.

8. Get Leeds into the top 10
If Uwe does all the 7 things I mentioned then this is possible and I would without doubt class the season as being a huge success.

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