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Bielsa keeps faith with Casilla as FA set date for his hearing
Thursday, 13th Feb 2020 22:37 by Tim Whelan

Many fans on social media think it’s time for Casilla to be dropped, but Marcello Bielsa has already announced he will start against Bristol City. Yet that might be his last game for a while.

After Kiko’s latest high profie error at Brentford on Tuesday night, more than a few Leeds fans think it’s about time for ‘Kiko the clown’ to be dropped to the under 23s to have a rest and recover a bit of form and confidence. But that isn’t Marcello Bielsa’s way, be that through the desire to support a senior member of his squad, or just plain stubbornness.

Bielsa told the press pack at his weekly press conference “I don’t support Kiko, I support the team. If supporting Kiko is supporting the team, I support Kiko. If I support Kiko, but damage the team, I will not support Kiko. When one manager takes a decision on an important position he analyses a lot of situations.”

“I want to add I do not ignore Kiko’s mistakes. They are evident. Also, it’s true the consequence of his mistakes are linked with our results, but I give importance to Kiko, in the same matches, and previous, kept confidence in himself. He continues giving the right answers in every situation in the game. Kiko keep the confidence in himself, he keep the confidence of his team-mates. He lost the confidence expressed in the press and media.”

But even if he has retained the confidence of his fellow squad members, Kalvin Phillips told LUTV that Casilla apologised to his team-mates after his howler at Griffin Park. “I’m obviously very gutted for Kiko but it’s a mistake that he can’t really make. He knows that, we’ve told him and he’s apologised for that. That’s football and it happens. We were on top at the start and all throughout the game we were on top so very proud of the lads for putting in a good performance.”

But those who think it’s time that our 19 year-old loan keeper Ilan Meslier to get a chance might soon get their way. The Lorient stopper looked solid during the FA Cup defeat at Arsenal, and we were all impressed by the quality of his distribution. And the decision of whether to select him may soon be taken out of Bielsa’s hands by the FA.

The Telegraph have reported that the FA will finally hear his disciplinary case next week, on February the 18th and 19th, to finally come to a conclusion on the allegation that he racially abused Charlton’s Jonathan Leko. Apparently it’s taken so long because of the need to interview numerous players and involve language and lip-reading experts.

Players from Leeds and Charlton will attend the hearing, as will some from Leko’s parent club West Bromwich Albion, though what light they can shed on what happened is anybody’s guess. A minimum ban of six games would automatically follow a guilty verdict, which many fans think would be a blessing! Some have even said the FA have strung it out just to make sure we don’t go up!

It’s quite possible that Casilla’s dip in form has gathered pace in the last few weeks because the hearing was approaching and it was playing on his mind. But perversely, it might also have played a part in Bielsa’s determination to keep in the side, in order to ensure that Meslier doesn’t get injured or suspended just before a period when we will have very few options in goal.

At least we can look forward to a time very soon when this whole sorry episode will be over, and we’ll either have a confident Mesilier, or Casilla with a great weight off his mind. Then we should be back to the solid defence of the first third of the season, and stop conceding stupid goals in time for the big promotion run-in.

Reuters Media Express

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