Illan Meslier not to blame for Leeds United's goals against, Marcelo Bielsa judges keeper's confidence by different yardstick

Marcelo Bielsa hadn't considered that conceding seven goals in his first two Premier League games would dent Illan Meslier's confidence, because of the young keeper's 'show of personality' against Fulham.

Sunday, 27th September 2020, 5:45 am
CONFIDENT - Marcelo Bielsa believes the seven goals Leeds United have conceded were not Illan Meslier's fault and should not have impacted his self belief. Pic: Getty

At just 20 years of age the Frenchman has cemented himself as Bielsa's first choice between the sticks, having come into the team during Kiko Casilla's racism ban late last season.

Meslier came into the side with 11 games remaining and Casilla facing an eight-game suspension, seized his opportunity and has not looked back. Casilla's inclusion in the team that faced Derby County once promotion and the title were won came as a shock, but Meslier was restored for the final game against Charlton and it was clear this summer that he would go into the Premier League season as Leeds' starting stopper.

It has been an interesting start to life in the top flight for Meslier. Leeds have lost one and won one of their seven-goal thrillers.

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Although Leeds shipped four goals to champions Liverpool on the first day of the season, two of those goals came from the spot. They conceded another three against Fulham but one of those was a penalty.

Bielsa does not consider Meslier to have been at fault and does not believe that picking the ball out of his net so often in the season's opening two games will have impacted his goalkeeper's self belief.

"I think that you are judging using stats that we don't take into consideration, that I don't think are correct," he said when asked about Meslier's confidence ahead of today's trip to Sheffield United.

"Perhaps I am the one in the wrong. You have to look at the goals and whether any of them were actually his fault or whether they would decrease his confidence. I think not. He did not make many errors that led to goals. Especially in the first game he stopped plenty of goals."

Bielsa judges a goalkeeper's confidence in his own ability differently to some. He examines how Meslier is distributing the ball for Leeds and the contribution he makes to starting attacks, to make a judgement. The goals conceded, thus far, just don't come into it.

"Although a goalkeeper's main function is to make saves and a way to show his confidence is to see how they play out from the back," he said.

"In this game against Liverpool he wasn't very good playing out with his feet, in the last game against Fulham he was very good. My conclusion is that he had the confidence or belief in himself to look past the deficiencies playing out against Liverpool to do very well against Fulham. I give value to this show of personality. Perhaps I am not taking into consideration that conceding seven goals would have an affect on a goalkeeper."