Going into the summer, the goalkeeper position at Leeds United was seen as an area that the club did not need to bring in new blood, as the club had former England number one Rob Green and former starter Marco Silvestri was still at the club, with Bailey Peacock-Farrell coming up the ranks as the keeper of the future.
What a difference a few months make.
OFFICIAL: Hellas Verona have signed Italian goalkeeper Marco Silvestri from Leeds United for an undisclosed fee. pic.twitter.com/ozXVmBqm10— TransferNewsCentral (@TransferNewsCen) July 21, 2017
First, Leeds United went out and got Felix Weidwald from Werder Bremen. Next, Bailey Peacock-Farrell originally was supposed to go on loan to Oldham Athletic, but the deal was scuppered at the last minute in order for Peacock-Farrell to join the team in Austria for preseason training. It was considered an odd move, but it made more sense once Marco Silvestri made the switch back to Italy, joining newly promoted Serie A side Hellas Verona, city rivals of the club he joined Leeds from, Chievo Verona. As preseason wore on, what seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the off-season seemed to be inevitable: That Rob Green would be replaced as the starting keeper for Leeds United.
Part of the Victor Orta/ Thomas Christiansen revolution at the club was to bring in a new style of goalkeeper to the club. Rather than simply rely on the goalkeeper to hoof the ball down the pitch towards a target man in the opponent’s half, Christiansen seems to favor a system in which the keeper puts the ball into play on the floor.
Felix Wiedwald was brought in to play that kind of system. While bringing in a new keeper didn’t seem to make sense at the time, even with the addition of the big German, most people expected Green to retain his starting job this season. However, after seeing Wiedwald in action, it makes perfect sense why Christiansen would seek a new keeper.
wonderful job by Weidlwald to get that ball out to Alioski. How many times to you just see the GK hoof the ball up the pitch & cause a to— Thru It All Together (@ThruItAllLUFC) August 26, 2017
One sequence from the Nottingham Forest match puts the difference in styles crystal clear. A backpass put Wiedwald under pressure with the ball at his feet. Instead of panicking or simply hoofing the ball up the pitch, Wiedwald picked out Alioski on the wing and started the attack.
The biggest change from Green to Wiedwald is the distribution from the back, and so far, it seems to be working. Not only has Wiedwald been able to provide better passing and better service from the between the sticks, the defence has been able to hold the other team for four straight league clean sheets, allowing a total of two goals in the Championship this season, both of which came off of set pieces against Bolton.
The club let Rob Green depart for Huddersfield Town on the same weekend as the Nottingham Forest match, and brought back former Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan from Wolverhampton to replace him. And while some fans might have wanted a fee for Green to move on, the team simply terminated his contract and allowed him to leave.
So after the window has closed, Leeds have an established starting keeper, Felix Wiedwald, and have someone who was brought in to be the backup keeper, Andy Lonergan, with Peacock-Farrell still on the roster as the keeper of the future for the club. Hopefully Peacock-Farrell can learn the system that Christiansen demands of his keepers and is able to still be the future of the club between the sticks. It might be better for him if he goes on loan in January, but time will tell what kind of experience he gets being in the first team.