Goalkeepers and outfield players are very different animals. I’m not just talking about the jobs they do. It’s more about the way in which managers treat them and handle them.
Marco Silvestri had a very mixed night at Bristol City on Wednesday. I think we’re all agreed about that. Neither goal reflected brilliantly on him and other mistakes were obvious during the game.
That’s football and that’s goalkeeping. Sometimes you’re going to be sharp, alive to everything and hard to beat. On other occasions the basics will let you down and you’ll struggle with parts of your game that normally come naturally. Those matches are frustrating and quite hard to explain.
But Silvestri should be given the benefit of the doubt. It’s very easy to point the finger of blame at a keeper and on Wednesday that was maybe deserved but we’re three games into the season and this isn’t the time to be pulling the rug from under him.
I’m thinking here as a former manager. It’s the simplest thing in the world to change the team whenever something goes wrong but there’s much more to consider when it comes to replacing a keeper.
You have to look at the bigger picture. And 46 games in a Championship term is a very big picture.
If this was December and Silvestri was in a poor patch, Uwe Rosler could justify pulling him in and telling him that he’s coming out of Leeds United’s line-up.
There are times when keepers are at a really low ebb and almost need saving from themselves. In those circumstances a manager has to be brave, bite the bullet and act.
But dropping Silvestri at this stage would shatter his belief. I couldn’t see it having a positive effect at all.
Basically, he goes into the season as number one but fails to make it past the end of the first fortnight.
It’s the opposite of a vote of confidence and the sort of decision that would make him feel like he hadn’t even been given a chance to make amends.
He and the goalkeeping coach at Leeds will have analysed his performance at Bristol City and they’ll know what went wrong. They’ll know what they have to address. Rosler’s a sensible guy so he might not even feel the need to speak to Silvestri.
I remember these situations myself. It’s often better to back a good keeper by leaving them to focus on their training and letting their next performance do the talking.
That said, if Uwe has spoken to Silvestri then I’ve no doubt at all that he’ll be supporting him.
He’ll know that Silvestri needs a bit of faith. It’s a case of ‘come on, show us what you’re really about’ and assuming he starts today, I’d cross fingers for a big display against Sheffield Wednesday. One cracking match and the criticism dies away.
Leeds do have a very good alternative in Ross Turnbull. I worked with Ross at Barnsley and I always thought he was terrific.
I’m a little surprised he hasn’t carved out a long career in the Premier League and I reckon that if he hadn’t gone to Chelsea of all clubs, he’d probably have established himself as a number one at another top-flight side.
He seems to be rebuilding his career somewhat after spells at Doncaster and Barnsley but he’s a great professional and an excellent player.
If Rosler finds himself in a position where he feels the need to change keeper he’ll be glad of the deal to bring Turnbull in last month.
But to be frank, we’re not at that stage yet or I don’t think we should be.
Silvestri’s mindset will be this – yes, I made mistakes but we’re less than two weeks into the season and I’ll come back stronger.
If he was on a long run of bad displays then I’m sure he’d be honest enough to hold his hands up and concede that he was out of form.
There are areas of his game which definitely need to improve – commanding his box for one – but he’s young and this is too early in the term to be chopping and changing.
Keepers being keepers, there’ll be a little sliver of doubt in his mind after Wednesday night.
Take him out of the team now and that doubt would only intensify. He’s number one at Leeds. The club need to back him.