Steve McClaren has praised Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa for his decision to stick by Kiko Casilla and Patrick Bamford, in conversation with BBC Radio Leeds.
The Whites headed to Brentford on Tuesday night and returned to Elland Road with a 1-1 draw, though the hosts’ opening goal came about due to a major error by Casilla.
The Leeds goalkeeper has made several mistakes this season and, against the Bees, misread a backpass by Liam Cooper, running under his foot and allowing Said Benrahma to score.
Cooper went on to claim Leeds’ equaliser in the 38th minute, rifling home after Brentford stopper David Raya failed to deal with a corner, and in the end, the spoils were shared.
Bielsa has since confirmed that both under-fire players will play for the Whites in Saturday’s Championship clash against Bristol City at Elland Road, telling Leeds Live: “Casilla is going to play and Bamford as well.”
McClaren said on BBC Radio Leeds: “Sometimes as a manager, there are tough, tough decisions and to stick by your goalkeeper I know is one of the toughest.
“Noel will know, sticking with your striker also, because they’re the ones – the ones in the middle, don’t worry about that, they can make mistakes all day long.
“Goalkeeper makes mistakes, Bamford’s not scoring – he’s getting all the criticism, so it’s at both ends where the game is won and lost. Goalkeepers are under pressure, strikers are under pressure. It’s good that (Bielsa) sticks with them.”
It’s great for Casilla that he retains the support of Bielsa, plus his Leeds teammates – as shown by when they rallied round him after conceding against Brentford.
Likewise, Bamford is more than capable, but fact of the matter is, he has fluffed plenty of good chances, and finishing remains one of the Whites’ key problems.
It could be argued that Bielsa doesn’t really have much choice but to support the two at the moment, as in goal, Illan Meslier might still be too raw to be thrown in at the deep end.
As for Bamford, there is Jean-Kevin Augustin waiting in the wings, but he may still need time to truly stake a claim for the first team ahead of the Englishman.