Despite a frustrating goalless draw with QPR last weekend, during which the Whites didn’t even manage to muster a single shot on target, there were a few positives to be taken from the game. Most significantly, Leeds’ goalkeeper Rob Green marked his 600th all-time league appearance – his 38th for this side – against his former club with a sensational performance, ensuring a clean sheet for the Whites and keeping their promotion hopes alive.
By the virtue of other results, Leeds are still comfortably sitting in the play-off positions. Although they’re now five points behind third-placed Huddersfield, they’re two ahead of Reading, with championship betting sites still offering odds of 7/2 for the Whites to be promoted. On the basis of Sunday’s result, however, it’s clear to see that Garry Monk’s men still have a lot of work to do to be in with a shot of Premier League promotion.
Sunday must have been a bittersweet day for the 37-year-old Green, who almost single-handedly kept Leeds in the contest as the majority of his teammates put in a dour performance. Denying former colleague Conor Washington with a brilliant save on 13 minutes, the former England number one also produced fine stops to keep out efforts from the likes of Luke Freeman and Matt Smith in the second half.
As his career reaches its twilight years, Green is in the form of his life – and it’s not only his performances on the pitch that are winning the goalkeeper praise. Ahead of his milestone appearance at the weekend, boss Monk praised Green for bringing his “great experience” to the Whites’ relatively young squad. He added: “That area of our squad [the goalkeeping] has been brilliant this season. All the keepers have been really competitive and training really well and they have all improved.”
Green’s fortunes are a far cry from those he found himself with this time last year, when the shot stopper was left “counting down the days” until he could leave QPR, having being bizarrely frozen out of the squad due to a clause in his contract.
Despite being the Hoops’ number-one choice at the time, a caveat of Green’s deal meant that if he reached 30 Championship appearances, a two-year contract extension would be automatically triggered. Incoming manager – and former Leeds favourite – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink informed Green that he had no future at the club, and the goalkeeper was forced to sit on the sidelines until his contract expired last summer.
Having shipped in 50 goals so far this season – 14 more than the Whites – and currently sitting 15th in the league ladder, Rangers will surely regret allowing the evergreen keeper to depart on a free to their Championship rivals. Indeed, Green showed both his maturity and drive post-match. He said: “I feel like I’m determined to be part of something special. I think it’s now about conveying that to the lads and getting them to understand it and believe it – to understand how good they can be and how good they will be.”