Marcelo Bielsa jumped to the defence of Bailey Peacock-Farrell and absolved him of responsibility after the Leeds United goalkeeper was beaten four times in a heavy defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
Peacock-Farrell was at fault for the second goal in a 4-1 loss last night, allowing a long-range shot from Matt Phillips to brush through his hands with West Brom leading 1-0 midway through the second half.
Albion went on to close out an emphatic win at The Hawthorns by scoring twice more in the closing stages of the game, taking advantage of a defence in disarray as Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle found the net.
Bielsa installed Peacock-Farrell as first-choice keeper at the start of the season despite the summer signing of Jamal Blackman from Chelsea and Peacock-Farrell has been ever-present in 17 Championship matches so far.
His performances have thrown up other errors, including one which contributed to a defeat to Birmingham City in September, but Leeds hold one of the better defensive records in their division and the 22-year-old run in the first team convinced Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill to hand him a competitive international debut in September.
Bielsa blamed himself for the loss to West Brom, saying his strategy had worked to Albion’s strengths by giving them opportunities to use their pace on the counter-attack, and he denied that Peacock-Farrell had influenced a result which prevented United from returning to the top of the Championship.
“He saved some goals,” Bielsa said, referring to blocks made by Peacock-Farrell from Jay Rodriguez and Harvey Barnes in either half. “I don’t think he has a high percentage of responsibility for the defeat.
“I don’t like to talk deeply about good things or bad things by one individual player, especially after a game like this one and especially when we lost with such a difference in the score. But what I can tell you for sure is that our goalkeeper is not responsible for the defeat.
“The spaces the opponent found to attack made it easier to score the goals they scored. It (the defeat) has to do with the design of the game more than the efficiency of the goalkeeper.
“We knew before playing this game that the best aspect of the opponent was their offensive players. We knew that in order to use their skills they needed big spaces and they found big spaces. My idea for the game couldn’t avoid this.
“The problems and solutions for games are always collective ones and the one who designs the scenario is always the head coach. I know I’m repeating myself but I want to insist on this point.
“The head coach of West Brom got what he needed. He needed big spaces to attack and he found them. If you take this ingredient out of the game, our offensive play was good.”
Peacock-Farrell has conceded 17 times in as many fixtures this season, a defensive record which only Middlesbrough and Swansea City have bettered. His tally of clean sheets stands at six.
Blackman, meanwhile, made his only two outings to date in the Carabao Cup in August and is appearing regularly for Leeds’ Under-23s. The on-loan Chelsea player featured 31 times in the Championship during a spell at Sheffield United last season.