Ian Wright was not impressed with Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope’s early save which saw Luke Ayling’s follow-up shot hit the back of the net for Leeds’ opener.

Joined by his son, Shaun Wright-Phillips in the Match Of The Day studio, Ian Wright was quick to criticise Newcastle‘s £10million signing, Nick Pope for his save that led to Luke Ayling’s opening goal, thinking he should have done more and SWP agreed.

Looking at a replay of the incident, Wrighty said: “I’m not sure about that save, I think he’s got to push that away” and was quickly backed-up by his son who said: “I’ve got to totally agree with you”.

Pope has a split-second to react and we have all the time to analyse it

Well, I don’t agree. I don’t think there is much else Pope can do in that situation. I’ve watched it over many times and I can’t see how he can do anything else that doesn’t end in a similar result.

On the side of the goal Pope claws the ball from, there are three Leeds players in front of him and not a blue shirt in sight, so wherever he palms that ball to, it’s going to land at the feet of an opposing player.

Leeds United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The ball was behind him when he makes the save making it virtually impossible to tip it round the post, an attempt to do so probably leads to him directing the ball into the net.

If he goes for a more powerful push away it likely cannons off a random player inside the box and deflects into the goal.

And that’s what I came up with after watching several replays, Pope has to assess all of that in a split-second. I think Ian Wright is expecting too much of Pope here.

The Newcastle defence left Pope vulnerable and that’s what led to the goal

Of course there were areas where, if Pope pushes the ball in that direction it likely runs clear and Newcastle’s clean sheet stays intact, but to see that space and be able to pick it out when you’re reaching behind you to stop a goal-ward shot is nigh-on impossible.

“But that’s what he trains for day in day out” I hear you cry. Of course it is, and he gets paid a lot of money to do that, but come on, he’s human not a super-computer with ‘keeper gloves on.

I refuse to place any blame on Nick Pope for that goal. For me it’s all about the defence, they all get sucked into the middle of the box and a huge gap is left behind. Alexander Isak stops tracking Ayling and he’s able to steal in and poke the ball home.

Am I biased because I used to play in goal? Maybe, but I will not have this slander. You did great, Nick, you did great.

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