Leeds boss Sam Allardyce admits ‘biggest decision’ over Illan Meslier

Sam Allardyce has admitted his selection against goalkeeper Illan Meslier was his “biggest decision” ahead of his first game as Leeds United manager.

Allardyce was named earlier this week to replace Javi Gracia after a five-game Premier League winless streak.

Meslier’s form has been a key talking point during this period, with the outgoing No.1 having made a number of costly mistakes in recent games.

Allardyce must now decide whether to remove the Frenchman from the firing line ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester City with Joel Robles next in line to replace him should he choose to make a switch.

“I never see a problem in training because there’s not really any pressure like in a game,” he said on Friday.

“There’s the goalkeeping coach working with him, there’s nothing you can see to suggest or say anything other than you’re looking at him and like all goalkeepers do together, he follows routine.

“They’re a bit silly, a bit crazy, aren’t they, because they love doing what they do. If you did this for an outfield player they would be really bored, but goalkeepers love it and they make a good group together.

“They’re like a little family of their own and that will hopefully help him, but for me that’s probably the biggest decision I have to make today.”

Gracia’s last game – Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth – left Leeds 17th in the table and only outside the bottom three on goal difference.

Allardyce has a lot to do with just four games of the season remaining, but he is happy with what he has seen from the team so far.

“In terms of the response, I couldn’t be happier that the players have expressed their views, which is very important to me on the way forward,” he added. .

“We have drawn up a plan on the big task ahead of us and analyzed the best way we can play on Saturday and listened to the staff on how best the players play in which positions.

“We’ve formed an idea and will tell them the starting XI this morning and will be on the pitch doing the final bits before leaving for Manchester.”

Allardyce were joined at Elland Road by former MK Dons boss Karl Robinson and ex-Leeds striker Robbie Keane, both of whom are already making an impact on the training ground.

“I tried to lighten up the training a bit – there’s nobody better than Robbie Keane for that, by the way,” he added.

“He slipped in among the players. He joined them and did some coaching with them.

“We have Carl [Robinson]which is the same, so we’ve created a certain atmosphere in the way we like to work – making the training ground a nice place to come to.

“It doesn’t look like that with the results Leeds have had recently. It’s been a bit dark and we have to try to lift that.

“We can do that to some degree, but the only way to lift that in the end is to start getting results.

“We have to try to do that from Saturday because there are only four games left to try and survive in the Premier League.”


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(Photo: STEVE BARDENS/AFP via Getty Images)

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