As it stands, Leeds United look to be in a good position to go on and get promoted to the Premier League.
The Whites are seven points clear of third place with nine games left to play, and barring a late capitulation, they should be able to get themselves over the line.
However, if United do fail to secure a place in the top-flight next season, there’ll only be one man to blame.
Indeed, Kiko Casilla has single-handedly cost Leeds a number of points at important times over the past few months, and if his blunders hadn’t occurred Leeds would be pretty much home and hosed by now.
The Spaniard made high-profile mistakes against Wigan, Nottingham Forest and Brentford, and if errors never happened, Leeds could plausibly be four points better off.
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However, as much as Casilla is to blame for those mistakes, Marcelo Bielsa may also have to take responsibility for persevering with the Spaniard for so long.
The former Real Madrid man’s problems were evident long before the howlers started, just look at the 5-4 win over Birmingham City where he conceded every shot on target.
After the Birmingham game, Bielsa took him out of the firing line for Leeds’ FA Cup fixture against Arsenal.
Illan Meslier was put in for that match, and he made a great account of himself, even drawing praise from opposition supporters, and the sentiment after that game was that the Frenchman was better than Casilla.
— Lufcanxiety (@lufcanxiety) January 6, 2020
After Meslier’s performance tonight I’m greatly looking forward to Casilla’s 10-match ban https://t.co/6iVk4mvhlX
— David Gedge’s Potato Wedges (@gedge_s) January 6, 2020
If anyone still rates kiko after watching how easy meslier makes it look tonight then you need your head examining.
— Dan James (@danjames7890) January 6, 2020
Unpopular opinion but Meslier is better than kiko 😬
— Chris Hall (@ChrisHall841) January 6, 2020
Ban casilla until 2039…. meslier is better!
— Tom Dugdale (@doug_t_fresh) January 6, 2020
However, despite the fans expressing that they thought Meslier was better than the 33-year-old, the status quo was resumed as the Spaniard started every single game up until the point he was banned for eight games.
During that time he made three crucial errors, single-handedly costing Leeds four points.
Indeed, he dropped a howler against Wigan in the Whites’ 1-0 loss to the Latics, he let one in at his near-post against Forest before conceding again late on after Leeds overcommitted in an attempt to make amends for his mistake, and he pretty much assisted Said Benrahma against Brentford in United’s 1-1 draw.
Now, there’s no saying Meslier wouldn’t have made mistakes of his own, but any self-respecting stopper wouldn’t have messed up as badly as Casilla did, and Leeds could have been four points better off if the Frenchman was put in after his debut.
In other news, signing this 17 y/o could fix one big problem at Leeds.