Noel Whelan says Leeds United goalkeeper Bailey-Peacock Farrell can bounce back from his mistake at the weekend, highlighting the qualities of the Northern Ireland international.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were on the wrong end of a surprise 4-1 thrashing at West Brom on Saturday, with an all round under-par performance from the visiting team.
Peacock-Farrell was criticised by fans on social media after the defeat, with some suggesting he was culpable for the goals conceded against Darren Moore’s Baggies.
The 22-year-old academy graduate, who made his debut in 2016 but had to wait until earlier this year for regular game time, started the season as first choice following the departures of Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan, despite the arrival of Jamal Blackman on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
He has made 19 appearances so far for club and country in 2018/19, as Leeds now sit third in the second tier, and a section of United's fanbase feel he has been at fault a number of times already this term.
On whether Peacock-Farrell should keep his place, Whelan told Sporting Life’s Sky Bet Championship Podcast: “There’s a lot of debate about that. There was after the game because it was another messy mistake by him [Matt Phillips’ strike to make it 2-0] and he knew, he face planted right into the grass, he knew he should have saved it.
“You should not be conceding goals like that when you are still in the game, it was a great reaction as well from Leeds after they went behind.
“But…he is an international goalkeeper – Jamal Blackman isn’t. He has kept him out until this point and the debate goes on.
“You’ve got to tread carefully with this, we go back to players and their mental toughness, he is going to have to get over that and go on international duty with Northern Ireland, Blackman will be sat thinking, ‘this could be my time now, it’s another mistake’.
“Realistically, would either of those goalkeepers be your first choice goalkeeper that is going to get you to the Premier League? Probably not.
“His reaction saves are fantastic, his distribution has got better but, like a striker, these things are going to be looked upon with a magnifying glass because you are in that position. These mistakes could cost them.
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“But let’s not forget, he’s had some great games, made some crucial saves. We are only looking at this now because of certain goals that have gone in, how they have gone in, and big mistakes. He’s young, he’ll learn.
"What does a manager do? We’ll see. I’ve not seen enough of Blackman obviously, I saw him in the cup games when he got his opportunity, then went out of the cup and that was his game time gone.
"We can’t just put all the blame on him [Peacock-Farrell], Mateusz Klich got robbed of the ball for dwelling on it, he [Phillips] still had a lot to do from outside the box. It should have been saved, but let’s not take anything away from the performances he’s put in for Leeds United.”
On the Hawthorns defeat, the former Leeds and Middlesbrough striker says it might be a ‘wake-up call’ for the United squad, many of whom experienced a plight from the top after a good start under Thomas Christiansen last season.
Many believe it is different this time under experienced Argentine coach Bielsa, whose side have so far earned most of the plaudits for performances this season.
Their pressing style has been highlighted by pundits and fans on social media, and they have dominated games, including against Albion as they had a 72 per cent share of play.
“Possession means absolutely nothing to me,” Whelan continued.
“Unless you’re having something at the end of it, whether it’s a shot on target, the goalkeeper making a save or scoring a goal.
“Possession is a myth, you could have four attacks and score four goals and only have 20 per cent possession. Leeds were not at their best, they did not hit the levels they have set themselves up until that point. They came across a very, very strong, aggressive, fast, powerful, clinical West Bromwich Albion side.
“If you’ve got any aspirations of getting promotion, you have to test yourself against the best and they are one of the best in the Championship. Their front four is frightening, very, very aggressive and strong – I don’t think I have seen Liam Cooper have a bigger battle on his hands for the amount of time he did against Hal Robson-Kanu, a fantastic battle to watch. Two strong players.
“Leeds just weren’t at it, sloppy passing, not the movement we expected to see from Leeds, they didn’t want to take shots on and [made] mistakes for probably three out of the four goals, which they’ll look back on.
“If you make mistakes against sides like that, you do get punished and they were punished. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for Leeds.”
- Hear more from Noel Whelan, Gareth Jones and Tom Carnduff on Peacock-Farrell, Leeds, what the setback means for Marcelo Bielsa's title-chasing side, a quality West Brom outfit and more in the latest Sky Bet Championship Podcast by clicking the image below...
West Brom 4-1 Leeds highlights
Odds correct as of 1830 GMT on 13/11/18