Leeds United must attack Championship with confidence

Gaetano Berardi: Played in new-look defence.
Gaetano Berardi: Played in new-look defence.
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DEFENDER Gaetano Berardi says Leeds United will need to exude the extra confidence encouraged by Marcelo Bielsa to finally seal promotion come the new Championship campaign.

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Leeds signed off from their pre-season friendlies with Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Italian Serie A side Cagliari Calcio in Sardinia with Kalvin Phillips shown a straight-red card for a full-blooded tackle on Simone Pinna with five minutes left.

United had fallen behind to a strike from Valter Birsa in the 14th minute but the Whites ensured they boarded the plane back to England with a positive result when Pablo Hernandez coolly dinked home a 50th-minute penalty awarded after Mateusz Klich had been clipped in the area.

Cagliari finished last season 15th in Serie A with top-scorer Leonardo Pavoletti handed his first call-up to the Italy national side in March and the 31-year-old proved a nuisance before being substituted at half-time.

Berardi, though, revealed that Whites head coach Bielsa had told Leeds they were a better team than the Italians with Berardi insisting confidence would be key for the forthcoming campaign.

United will begin their bid to erase the pain of last season’s agonising failure to seal promotion in six days’ time with Sunday’s game at Bristol City.

“Cagliari are a good side but Marcelo told us that we are better than them,” said Berardi.

“Before the game, we said we are not sure about this but during the game you could see that it looked like this so it’s been a good game.

“There is a good confidence but we will need a better confidence because it’s normal that during the pre-season we try something new, with new players, new shape, new system.

“We need to find the right shape, the right confidence to start the new season.”

Berardi lined up in a new-look back three alongside captain Liam Cooper and new loanee recruit from Brighton Ben White.

Saturday’s draw in Sardinia formed part of a double-header of friendlies on the day with several of United’s first-team squad players staying behind as another Whites XI took on Spanish Segunda Divison side Girona at Manchester City’s training ground. Goals from Clarke Oduor, Jack Harrison and Gjanni Alioski saw Leeds to a 3-2 victory.

Berardi, meanwhile, was satisfied with the outing against Cagliari but reasoned: “It’s been a good test for everybody; another 90 minutes, a good game, a good result but we didn’t win the game so we are a bit disappointed.”

He added: “I think during the game we realised we could win it and at the end of the game we know we could do better.

“But, in the end, I think it has been a positive game.

“We are trying to do what Marcelo wants and it was good to play against a good team and I think that we showed that we can do it very well.

“It’s been a long pre-season, tough, but we are ready.”