A year ago, Felix Wiedwald didn’t believe he’d now be a Leeds United player. Happy at Werder Bremen, the 27 year old clearly saw a long term future with the German club.
Alexander Nouri thought otherwise, and in the summer signed Jiri Pavlenka, with the move being known about for a while before it actually happened. Many in the German media were aghast that a largely unknown Slavia Prague goalkeeper was brought to replace Wiedwald.
Wiedwald immediately started looking for a way out, perhaps in haste, and joined Leeds in June. It was clear the goalkeeper felt humiliated and wasn’t going to stand for it, so off he went, and managed to quickly show promise for Leeds United.
Over in Germany, Pavlenka was having a horrid preseason. The media which surrounds Werder Bremen were talking up Nouri’s decision repeatedly, and then taking it to pieces.
Why gamble? Wiedwald was adequate, with room for improvement, why parachute a Czech goalkeeper in and unsettle everything at the back?
Werder’s season started and quickly fell apart, Pavlenka found his feet but his teammates struggled, and with the club in the relegation zone, Nouri was fired.
Wiedwald couldn’t really celebrate his nemesis’ downfall too much, because his time at Leeds was starting to wobble. A brilliant run in the Championship led to assumptions of a good fight for automatic promotion, and Wiedwald was a big part of it.
A string of clean-sheets and victories was brought to an end against Millwall, but Wiedwald still performed well in that loss. Then came the Burnley cup match, and Andy Lonergan’s penalty heroics… and then came doubt.
Well, what if Lonergan is actually better? This was a nightmare scenario for Wiedwald.
Leaving Werder Bremen was humiliation enough, to then find himself on the Leeds bench would be unthinkable. But there was talk of it… and then it actually happened.
Wiedwald wasn’t ready to accept it, or even admit he’d been dropped. Speaking to the German media after Lonergan played in Leeds’ 3-0 win over Bristol City, Wiedwald denied it: “Not really. The coach said that I’ve had a lot of games in a short time before and I would need a break. I would not be used to it. And it is true, you really have to get used to playing always on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
“In addition the journeys. We have a 24 club league with 46 games – plus two cup contests. I’ve noticed that I’ve become tired.”
He hasn’t played in the league since.
Lonergan’s performance against Brentford at the weekend, in a 3-1 loss, was so bad that something now has to give. It was far worse than anything Wiedwald has managed to dish up since he moved to England.
Thomas Christiansen has a goalkeeper problem which is at least partly of his own making. Wiedwald’s confidence has been rocked, he’s going to be increasingly nervy, but his ceiling is likely higher than Lonergan’s.
It’s not too difficult to argue the situation is worse now than it would have been had Christiansen backed his goalkeeper, a player already arriving with his confidence a little shaken, but with a huge motivation to prove Werder Bremen wrong.
Indirectly, Wiedwald’s exit could have already played a role in Nouri’s Werder demise, with questions asked about the manager’s transfer judgement, and, if things continue as they are, the goalkeeper could also play an indirect part in Christiansen’s Leeds exit.
If Christiansen showed enough faith in Wiedwald to let Rob Green go, then he probably should have kept it at least a little longer.