Goalkeepers make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. I don’t care who you name or how good an individual goalkeeper is. At some stage they’re going to drop a clanger.
Marco Silvestri’s dropped two in the last month and both of them have cost Leeds United dear. Unfortunately for a keeper mistakes usually end up with the ball in the back of the net. It’s the position where a player is most at risk of exposure and embarrassment.
Watch Silvestri’s blunders back and they don’t get any better. He deserves to get criticism for them and he’s had plenty. But if I was Neil Redfearn, I’d be standing by him this weekend. I’d be playing him without thinking twice.
Coaches tend to see goalkeeping mistakes in a slightly different way to supporters. They’re a bit more philosophical. Supporters will think ‘bloody hell, that’s two mistakes now’ and vent their frustration but I tried not to be knee-jerk in my decisions as a manager. I preferred to look at the bigger picture.
Silvestri’s been excellent for Leeds this season. I’m not disguising his recent failings but in the main he’s been great. His shot-stopping’s superb, he commands his box well in the main and he’s pretty good at reading the game.
You might laugh at that last comment after what happened at Blackburn but I’ve seen that situation many times. It’s your ball, it’s my ball, leave it, oh dear. It’s basic stuff and it shouldn’t happen but players do have the capacity to make a mess of simple things. It happens.
The problem on Saturday was communication. I don’t mean the Italian-English divide because, by all accounts, Silvestri speaks good English. I mean communication in the plainest sense. All Silvestri had to do was shout for the ball and Liam Cooper leaves it alone. The ball sails into Blackburn’s half, or into the crowd, and the game goes on.
Redfearn will have spoken to Silvestri about it this week and the long and short of an incident like that is that you work on it and resolve it. A morning of teaching Silvestri to speak up and clear out anything and everything on the edge of his box is probably all he’ll need. It’s a curable problem and it doesn’t need to fester.
It would be very different if Silvestri was consistently dropping the ball, suffering with his handling or letting in shots he should be saving. Then we’d be talking about a keeper whose focus and confidence was questionable. But I’d be amazed if Redfearn was even contemplating dropping him for tomorrow’s game against Derby County. In my opinion, Silvestri’s still one of the first names on the team sheet.
This is a really critical spell for Leeds. They were close to a good result at Blackburn and the collapse in the second half made it a very bad result. The league table isn’t dreadful but it isn’t brilliant either and we’re all aware of how difficult the fixture list looks.
Is this the right time to be changing your keeper? Personally I don’t think so. Not unless Redders is losing faith in Silvestri or has the utmost confidence in his number two, Stuart Taylor.
Taylor hasn’t played much this season. In fact, throughout his career he’s been a substitute more often than not. Maybe he’s itching for a chance and maybe he’d bring something to the team but to use him now would be a massive risk.
On top of that, it wouldn’t do much for Silvestri’s confidence to be bombed out so quickly. He’ll be annoyed at the moment about probably a bit down on himself but this is where man-management comes in. Point out the errors, obviously, but accept that keepers make them. Players make them, for goodness sake! Nobody is perfect – and I mean nobody.
I actually believe that Silvestri was one of the best signings Leeds made in the summer. He’s only 23 and they always reckon that keepers peak at some stage in their early 30s so he’s got years of improvement ahead and so much scope to tidy up his game.
What he doesn’t need at the moment is the curly finger. He needs the chance to atone from the odd mistake and eradicate them. But he’ll never eradicate them completely. No keeper ever does. Even if Silvestri goes on to play at the highest level, even if he wins caps for Italy, even if one day he wins the World Cup, he’ll still have afternoons where he wants to curl up in a ball and die.
We’ve all been there. The only difference for us outfield players is that in amongst the errors that people nail you for, you get away with twice as many which people forget as the game goes on. That’s why in amongst the frustration, no one at Thorp Arch will be too hard on Silvestri.