Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s career seemed to be at something of a crossroads as this year got underway.
A proposed move to Swedish side Landskrona had fallen through after a trial, just as hopes of joining Oldham Athletic the previous summer had also been dashed despite the young goalkeeper training with the League One club for a short time.
Even when Peacock-Farrell had managed to get out on loan for a month to York City, nine goals conceded in four National League North outings meant it had been a tough baptism for someone whose solitary league start for Leeds had come back in April, 2016.
From such inauspicious beginnings, however, 2018 has turned out to be a year to savour for the Darlington-born 21-year-old.
Not only did the final two months of last season bring 11 appearances for Leeds and the Young Player of the Year trophy, but he is also now the club’s recognised first-choice goalkeeper.
Throw in a first senior cap with Northern Ireland and things really could not be going much better for Peacock-Farrell right now.
“The aim for myself was to build on the back of last season,” he said ahead of today’s televised game at Derby County, “and then try and progress myself and make myself known as a Championship goalkeeper.
“But I have only played the first game. So much can change throughout the season, we all know that from last season.”
Peacock-Farrell’s refusal to get carried away is wise. Nevertheless there has been an unmistakable sense of excitement surrounding Leeds following the manner of last Sunday’s scintillating win over title favourites Stoke City.
The football played by Marcelo Bielsa’s side was of the highest order. Peacock-Farrell, given the nod in goal ahead of summer arrival Jamal Blackman, played his part by ensuring United could play out from the back in a style similar to that of Pep Guardiola’s sides.
Many hours spent watching videos of Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich this summer meant Peacock-Farrell knew exactly what Bielsa, a mentor to Guardiola, was demanding of him against Stoke.
“Trust is a huge thing,” he added when asked about the impressive link-up play with the defence that characterised the opening-weekend win.
“You trust your team-mates that they will make the right movement. Sometimes you can get the same ball, but if they don’t create that angle for you then you are in a bit of a sticky situation.
“But you can see from the way we have been rotating and playing, the movement is there. We are always trying to show an option. Not just for me, but for every single player all around the pitch.
“We are always trying to create an angle for a way to get out (of trouble). So I have faith that when I get that ball I know where certain players are going to be. They also know where to be and that they can expect a ball from me.
“It is all calm. We trust one another, we trust the movement and we trust the method.”