How things have changed. What could have gone wrong? Signing a Spanish international from Real Madrid with a Champions League winners medal plus countless La Liga trinkets to go with it.
At first the likeable giant of a man with film star looks didn’t disappoint and made himself a fixture between the sticks in place of Bailey Peacock-Farrell and showed just why Leeds were quite happy to put up the 30k plus a week he asked for when he moved in from sunny Madrid.
Then at the latter end of last season it started to go a bit ‘Pete Tong’ for him, blunders at the back end of the season, especially at Ipswich started to grow doubts in him.
The playoff semi final first leg he once again showed he had all the attributes of a top keeper, then, around sixty seconds from the end of the first half of the second leg at Elland Road both he and Liam Cooper had a moment both would rather forget and Derby went into the break level.
It looked after that the whole defence, not only Kiko fell apart and we know that they went on to win the tie on aggregate and Leeds fans hearts were totally broken. Was he to blame? You cannot and shouldn’t pin the defeat on him, other people should accept they had a part in that second half collapse.
This season Casilla was told by his goalkeeping coach to “stop f#%k#%g about!” and as a whole we saw a different Kiko. Then came Charlton when he was accused of saying something he shouldn’t to a player of the opposition. He denies that he did and the matter will be cleared up by the EFL and if proven guilty Casilla could face a long time out due to the suspension.
Doubts about his safeness once again arose during the game with Cardiff City, he weakly flapped at a cross and the ball was lobbed past him by Tomlin. The game ended 3-3, Leeds were 3-0 up and again Kiko couldn’t be totally blamed but he was once again a factor.
Since then he’s seemed hesitant and Leeds have shipped goals in a unfortunately far too regularly and with the goals not going in at the other end more focus has been put on the defence to try to keep the opposition out.
On paper Kiko is one of the strongest performers in the league, with an impressive 68% save percentage and conceding the second least amount with 29 goals. But has a previously strong defence covered up for his continued poor display.
Whether it’s the EFL or finally Bielsa decides it’s time Illan Meslier a run in the team only time will tell. The young french keeper showed at Arsenal that if called on he won’t let Leeds down.
Myself I’d rather give him a few games before and if Casilla is banned to get used to playing in a very physical Championship.
As for Kiko only time will tell if he’s a good keeper or one that makes good saves but has another part of his game that worries both fans and his defenders.
The poor keeping display against both Wigan and Noting Forest, in which the stopper was given beaten at his near post by Ameobi shows a player out of confidence and lacking awareness.
Eyes will point towards the Spaniard tonight in what could be a must win match for Leeds against promotion hopefuls Brentford.
By Keith Ingham