In terms of exciting transfer news, the looming arrival of Kiko Casilla is one of our better ones. Not necessarily because he’s a name that makes our peers spit their collective coffees across their respective tables, but because it’s an exciting sound-bite. Signing a player from Real Madrid. A Spanish goalkeeper with Champions League experience at that? It’s easy to print material that makes it exciting. In reality, it’s more shrewd than it is ambitious. Casilla has been behind Keylor Navas for the longest time, but now finds himself behind Courtois and Navas, so Madrid are willing to let him leave (meaning Leeds will buy-out his 18-month contract).
While it’s easy to criticise the signing because he’s not been first choice anywhere for a while (and therefore doesn’t actively play often), he’s a good goalkeeper who will add some much needed experience to our weakest position. And that’s not a slight on Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who has been exceptional all things considered, but he’s only young and full of mistakes. If we’re serious about trying to get promotion then it’s only fair to us (and the Peacock) that he’s not burdened with the sole responsibility of being between the sticks. A seasoned, hardened professional like Kiko, however, is well suited to take this particular strain. This is a good deal for everyone. He’s old enough that his retirement isn’t so far away that Bailey will feel he has no chance of taking over. It’s over to him now – taken from the pressure-cooker he can now focus on improving, maturing and taking back the #1 spot when he’s ready. It’s a good move.
I think Leeds still need to replace Saiz and Baker in some form or another, in addition to strengthening the squad beyond that. But I trust Bielsa and Orta to find the right options.
We also witnessed a lovely footballing moment this weekend when Leeds were ‘caught’ spying on Derby’s training. When presented with this information Bielsa nonchalantly admitted it was his doing and that it “wasn’t a big deal”. He’s right, too. The furore that has surrounded the very notion that Leeds may wish to observe a competitor’s training session has been utter nonsense. It has been presented as if Leeds United and their dastardly non-English coach have sullied the honourable sport of football by peering over a fence on public land.
Which is amusing for a few different reasons.
- It’s not a crime, at all
- It’s been done for decades by all sorts of clubs
- Football is filled with cheating – diving, surrounding the ref, even the weird workarounds with regards to owner investment
Yet the pundits clambering over themselves to lambast Leeds for having the audacity to do it has been amusing. We choose to ignore that AVB would routinely scout the opposition training sessions for Mourinho’s Chelsea, assessing the drills, the squad, etc. We choose to ignore that the sour-faced whiskey-sipper that managed Scum for so many years would do this.
But despite all the feigned outrage, Frank Lampard of Frank Lampard’s Derby got completely and utterly schooled by Leeds on Friday night. We were sharp, incisive and direct. Despite having some key players missing we tore Derby to pieces. Spying or not, it was a game Leeds were going to win. It’s sad that the narrative surrounding the game is still so heavily dominated by an irrelevant argument about spying, whereas it should be the continuation of the conversation about whether Leeds are genuine title contenders. They are, as it goes, but it’s still a more worthwhile conversation than the current one.
On to a new goalkeeper and Stoke. Another big game.