Leeds United goalkeeper had a couple of nightmare matches before the international break, looking rather poor against Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday. The big German keeper looked hesitant coming out to collect crosses and allowed himself to bullied in the penalty box. However, this is the same keeper that kept six straight clean sheets in the Championship. Give him a chance to make it right.
A lot of Leeds fans were confused this summer when the club signed Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen in Germany. Ex-England international Rob Green had established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the division last season, and if any position at the club didn’t need addressing, goalkeeping was it. However, new Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen wanted to play out from the back and needed a goalkeeper that was comfortable with the ball at his feet, something that Rob Green and Marco Silvestri, the other established keeper at the club, weren’t able to provide.
Everything seemed to be going fine, so much so that Rob Green was allowed to move to Huddersfield Town before the close of the summer transfer window and Wolverhampton keeper Andy Lonergan was brought in as cover and to allow Bailey Peacock-Farrell time to develop. Wiedwald was a revelation at the back, passing the ball around, and doing well enough to keep six consecutive clean sheets in the Championship after the club gave up two goals against Bolton Wanderers on opening day. And then Millwall happened.
Millwall finally broke open the floodgates, as they were able to get a goal past Wiedwald during open play for the first time all season. And then a few more goals were let in against Ipswich Town. And then Cardiff and Wednesday pressed high, creating havoc in the Leeds back end. And oh, did Wiedwald look bad. Crosses and shots that only a few matches earlier would have been dealt with easily were suddenly dangerous threats. Of course, the revolving door at centreback was certainly a factor in the poor defensive play, and teams seemed to finally figure out how to exploit the Leeds defence by bombing attacks down the left hand side, leaving Vurnon Anita or Gaetano Berardi unable to cope.
Thomas Christiansen reassured fans during his press conference yesterday that he has no plans to replace Wiedwald, and with the other keepers at the club not really being able to play the kind of style that Christiansen demands, it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to believe that Wiedwald won’t get a chance to rediscover his form.
While his play has looked poor during the last couple of matches, Wiedwald has now had the international break to rest up, study match film with the coaches, and work with Christiansen on how they will proceed the rest of the season. Christiansen may not be perfect, and he might start to rue the lack of rotation in the squad this season, but if anything, Christiansen has shown an ability to get his team and his players prepared for a match after coming out of a break. And if Christiansen thinks that Wiedwald is 100% and ready to go, then this weekend is a great time to get Wiedwald some confidence back. Reading can’t seem to score and so hopefully if Wiedwald goes out and has a good game and a keeps a clean sheet, he’ll be able to regain the form he had earlier in the season.