The final straw for Kiko Casilla, time to hand Illan Meslier the gloves
11 Feb 2020 09:40 pm, by YorkshireSquare
It’s fair to say that Kiko Casilla had a lot to live up when he signed from Real Madrid. But last season did not end so well for the Spanish keeper, Leeds fans fingers were bitten down to the bone on several occasions. His tendency to come rushing out of his goal whenever the ball goes into his box left Leeds fans with their hearts in their mouths. The confusion between Liam Cooper and Casilla which saw Jack Marriott equalise for Derby in the play-off semi-final lead to confidence between the defence and keeper being lost and a crazy 45 minutes of football which ultimately saw Leeds United lose their chance of promotion.
This summer there were question marks over his future at Leeds, and at £35k a week was he too much of a gamble for the club? But Casilla made his intention to stay clear and with the departure of Bailey Peacock-Farrell to Burnley his position as the man between the sticks for Leeds United was secured. Casilla did not want to be defined by the Derby game and despite a heart stopping charge from his line against Bristol his performances at the start of the campaign were good. He put in a commanding performance against Wigan making several excellent saves and claims from set pieces, his shot stopping and decision making kept us in several games early on this season.
But it’s all changed, since being charged by the FA with racially abusing Charlton Athletic's Jonathan Leko, a charge he denies, Casilla is a shadow of the player he was earlier in the season. During Leeds United’s poor run of results they have still been dominating possession and creating chances, the two differences are that they are not converting their chances and they are conceding soft goals. A shot at the near post that should have been saved, a corner flying straight in, a miscontrolled back pass. Casilla is letting in goals he should be saving, an often from the oppositions first shot on target in a game.
Play as well as you can going forward, but if you are always having to come back from an early goal it must be demoralising. Leeds were on top yet again in the early exchanges against Brentford but a goal against the run of play, a goal which should never have been rattled them. For a few minutes after then were on the back foot until composure was regained and Cooper grabbed the equaliser. Now is the time for leaders, but Casilla is not showing any leadership. How can the rest of the team play with confidence if there is a liability behind the sticks? My heart is in my mouth watching Casilla, god knows how Ben White and Liam Cooper feel!
With confidence lost in Casilla, Tuesday night has to be the final straw. The time is right to make the change. A change Bielsa has made before when bringing Casilla himself in to replace Bailey Peacock-Farrell at a similar stage last season. Illan Meslier looked assured against Arsenal, it’s time to hand him the gloves. For all of our sakes, but especially Kiko Casilla.