Eunan O’Kane’s sending off against Ipswich Town has proven that Leeds United have a real discipline issue running through their squad and it is set to threaten their play off hopes.
The Whites’ midfielder was given his marching orders by referee Robert Jones after 37 minutes for an off-the-ball incident in which he appeared to headbutt one of the home sides’ players, with Thomas Christiansen’s side going on to lose 1-0.
The potentially game-changing event was the second disciplinary episode the club have suffered in as many games, with Samu Saiz having been handed a six game ban for spitting in the club’s shock FA Cup defeat to Newport County last weekend.
It means that in total, Christiansen has had to compete with five of his players being handed suspensions this season; Gaetano Berardi also having seen a straight red for a headbutt while Liam Cooper and Ronaldo Vieira have both sat out matches as a result of a red card from two yellows.
While Cooper and Vieira were both dismissed for footballing reasons, O’Kane, Berardi and Saiz’s bans all stem from their lack of discipline, and it is something Christiansen needs to stamp out immediately.
Has the Danish boss been too easy on his squad? He does not come across as the sort of manager who is prone to imposing his authority, with his softly spoken nature hinting at a coach who prefers to nurture and support rather than hand out some tough love.
However, after O’Kane’s latest indiscretion, it is time for Christiansen to enforce some strict rules on his squad, with a play-off spot on the line.
Whether that means internal fines, private conversations or delivering a firm message to the entire squad is up to the club, but they need to do something if they want to deliver this season.
In other Leeds United news, Championship rivals are circling for a Leeds figure with his deal set to be torn up imminently.