LEEDS UNITED head coach Thomas Christiansen knew his job was on the line after the Elland Road faithful turned on him.
And so it proved last night when the club announced the parting of the ways.
It came after former Leeds manager Neil Warnock hailed this win as “one of the most complete victories since I have been here” as his Cardiff City side maintained their promotion push.
Leeds suffered their seventh red card of the season and fourth in five games and had central defender Pontus Jansson stretchered away as they slipped farther out of the reckoning.
Only the unpredictability of the Championship has left Leeds fans clinging to hope that they can make the top six after chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” rang out in Christiansen’s direction following his substitution of striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
Christiansen, axed after eight months, said immediately after the game: “We know that my situation depends on the results, on the chairman, on Victor (Orta, director of football) and on what they think is best for the team.
“But I do the best for the team. I want the best for Leeds, and this is my work and this what I am going to do. If it’s their decision that they want to find somebody better then I cannot do anything about that. This is their decision and I will then go away, but with the head high that I have done the best for the team and the club.”
The result left Leeds seven points adrift of the play-offs and while it was true that there was controversy to spark the ire of the home crowd, United were beaten by a better and more powerful side.
Leeds, who already had four players out suspended, had Gaetano Berardi sent off for the second time this season after two bookings for late challenges on Cardiff’s new £6m signing from Bolton, former Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Madine.
What irked the fans was that when Berardi got his first yellow Jansson was down in the opposition area after a clash with former Leeds favourite Sol Bamba.
If it’s their decision that they want to find somebody better then I cannot do anything about that. This is their decision and I will then go away, but with the head high that I have done the best for the team and the club.Leeds United head coach, Thomas Christiansen
The central defender had already clattered two Leeds players to provoke the chant of “Jansson, Jansson sort him out” before the off-the-ball incident as Cardiff cleared a corner.
Bamba, who had seen a downward header deflected over the bar, explained: “I slipped at the same time as him and I caught his ankle and I apologised to him straight away. I didn’t realise it was that bad, but I apologised as it was an accident really.”
By then, Cardiff were already ahead with the Leeds defence looking a shambles. The outstanding Callum Paterson headed home from a cross from debutant full-back Armand Traore and it was 3-0 before the break after Lasogga had headed against the bar from a couple of yards out and Alioski hit his rebound attempt into the ground and saw his shot saved when it seemed easier to equalise.
Paterson saw his off-target effort slid in at the far post by Junior Hoilett before Berardi’s second rash challenge on Madine saw him dismissed and Sean Morrison head home the resulting free-kick.
Leeds produced a spell of spirited response and when Stuart Dallas got the better of Traore to cross, Bamba slid the ball into his own net on 54 minutes as Kemar Roofe waited to pounce.
Warnock said: “I don’t think he’ll mind really. I said to him beforehand I fancied him to score, but I didn’t realise he’d take me up on it.”
Cardiff had the points sewn up late on when Anthony Pilkington tapped home.
Leeds central defender Matthew Pennington had defended Christiansen ahead of Saturday’s trip to Sheffield United, saying: “He’s a good manager, the players are all behind him. We don’t want finger-pointing. We have to stick together.
“We’ll get back in and now we have to recover and focus on Sheffield. We need every member to put in 100 per cent effort. We have a depleted squad with the red cards, but now we have to move on.
“It’s a disappointing day and a disappointing result. This is the time to stick together. Another red card is sad for us. I don’t know why it’s all happening, its strange. One of those things that happens in football.
“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. The game is gone now and we look to the Sheffield match. I’m confident about that. We have a decent away record.”
Bamba reflected: “The reason I came to Leeds was because it is a massive club and obviously it has loyal fans and they expect to be right up there and rightly so. I think we did a good job on them and deserved the result, but although they have had a couple of bad results I am sure they are going to bounce back.”
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Berardi, Pennington, Jansson (Dallas 30), De Bock; Alioski, Vieira (Grot 86), Forshaw, Hernandez; Lasogga (Sacko 74), Roofe. Unused substitutes: Lonergan, Anita, Vieira (Rom), Pearce.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Traore; Grujic (Halford 82); Wildschut (Pilkington 55), Paterson, Ralls, Hoilett; Madine (Zohore 72). Unused substitutes: Murphy, Feeney, Damour, Ward.
Referee: G Scott (Oxford).