SIMON Mignolet isn’t a terrible keeper. I know that goes against the narrative a bit, but there you go. He really isn’t terrible. The problem is that he also isn’t all that great and that’s what’s causing us such never-ending problems at the back.
The furore surrounding Mignolet and his position as Liverpool’s number one has died down a bit in recent weeks, partly because of Jürgen Klopp’s refusal to be drawn on suggestions that we’re going to buy another goalie and partly because of the Belgian’s performances. They haven’t been brilliant, but they’ve also mostly been without any of the howlers that made us all want to choke him with his over-sized gloves.
The fact that we’ve also watched Adam Bogdan in goal has no doubt aided the cause of the Simon Mignolet fan club a touch, too.
Yet I still think a new goalkeeper is of paramount importance, even if the recalling of Danny Ward from Aberdeen suggests that Klopp has some grasp on the realities of just how dire the situation is between the sticks is for Liverpool. I can’t pretend to have seen even one second of the youngster’s performances in the SPL, so I’m not going to claim he’ll be our savour or anything like that.
Here’s the thing for me, though. That thing I said in my opening paragraph about Mignolet not being all that great? That’s the nub of too many issues for me to be happy if he remains our number one for longer than another couple of months or so. I’m not going to go into the specifics of his issues as they’ve been dealt with elsewhere in much better fashion than I could ever offer.
What I will do, though, is explain why I think Liverpool Football Club can only benefit from bringing in a world-class goalkeeper.
Let’s start with the dodgy defending we seem to display whenever the opposition has a corner or a free-kick in a dangerous position. There’s no way that the presence of someone in goal that couldn’t catch an STD on a night out in Wigan doesn’t permeate through to the rest of the team. Absolutely no way whatsoever.
Just because he hasn’t messed up for the last few matches doesn’t mean he won’t in the next one. He’s done it far too many times now, in too many different circumstances, for anyone in the defensive unit to trust that he hasn’t got another brain-fart in his locker when you least expect it.
That uncertainty means that defenders and midfielders alike will only be half-thinking about their own jobs, fully aware that if they don’t make their header or pull off the tackle they need to do then Migs will probably end up doing something mental like punching them in the head instead of picking up the ball.
There’s also the fact that the defenders must think twice before figuring out what to do with the ball.
By the nature of the job, all goalkeepers have a mistake or two in them but most of the time if you’re under pressure then you know you can put the ball out for a corner without panicking about the consequences. That Mignolet makes our defence at corners look like a scene from Airplane! when things start to go wrong means they will practically pass the ball to the opposition rather than let them have a corner.
Leicester City don’t have the best defenders in the world. Manchester United don’t have the best defenders in the world. Manchester City don’t have the best defenders in the world (though they should for the money they’ve got). Yet what all of those teams have in common is a goalkeeper who will, more often than not, dig their defence out of the shit if he’s called upon. Does anyone seriously think United are above us in the league if we swap goalkeepers?
I certainly don’t.
Joe Hart is prone to the occasional mistake, but he’s also capable of producing tremendous, dominating, match-winning performances. When was the last time Mignolet dominated anything other Twitter feeds?
Here’s something else to think about: Would a world-class goalkeeper also produce better performances from our strikers?
If Christian Benteke knew in training matches that he needed to thread the ball through the eye of a needle in order to score, wouldn’t he be slightly better when in one-on-one situations in real matches? He certainly can’t get any worse if recent matches are anything to go by.
Right now all of Liverpool’s players know that all they have to do to score at Melwood is shout “nice boots” at Migs and he’ll look down to see what they’re talking about. It strikes me that there’s a reason we are constantly dominating the shots on goal stats but not converting them into the actual goals that matter so much.
All of that means there’s an argument to suggest that a top-class, dominating goalkeeper allows the defence to relax a little bit and get better organised at corners and set-pieces, whilst it will also sharpen up the attackers in front of goal.
There are loads of arguments to be had about the role of John Achterberg in all of this by people with far better knowledge than I.
I must confess I’m worried that Ward is returning to the club with him still as our goalkeeping coach given that he’s so far been around during the least reliable period in Pepe Reina’s career and also at the scene of the crime for Brad Jones, Simon Mignolet and Adam Bogdan.
He might ruin the lad before he’s even played a major game for us. I’ll leave that discussion to those more knowledgeable people that I talked of, though.
Mignolet isn’t a terrible keeper. At times he has the ability to do something exceptional. The trouble is what he does the rest of the time.
We’ve tried a goalkeeper that’s okay. Let’s move past that and go for a No.1 who is exceptional.
You never know, it might improve every single part of the team.
Is Danny Ward the answer? I don’t know. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that Simon Mignolet definitely isn’t.
Chapeau for the pun. LFC have given me an unknown variety pleasures over the years, more joy than any other team in the top division and the occasional blue Monday night. I’ve no regrets though, those Wednesday evening radio transmissions kept me warm on many a cold night in my youth, and the Kop, what an atmosphere! Some may have felt the siren’s call, the temptation of riches, but me, I’ve always kept the true faith.
Coat grabbed, stage exited, drum rolled. Ahem.
yeah, once we dont bring someone in who’s worse…
can say we look cohesive at the back for a long time, but the horrible truth is we can do worse. mig had the record in clean sheets last year i think.
In 2013/14, we conceded loads.
In 2014/15, we changed some defenders, and still conceded loads.
What was the constant? Mignolet.
Surprised you didn’t use Peter Cech at Arsenal this season to highlight the impact that a genuine top class keeper can make.
We should have chucked £35m at Spurs for Lloris in the summer of 2014.
Yep, absolutely spot on re Cech. I thought of exactly that point when I was structuring the article in my head and am fuming I didn’t think to use it. Thanks for putting it here as you’re totally right.
so explain 10/11, 11/12, 12/13. Each one of those was 40+ goals conceded.
From KM1806: “so explain 10/11, 11/12, 12/13. Each one of those was 40+ goals conceded.”
Nah. We’re talking about Mignolet, he wasn’t here during those seasons. Since Mignolet has been at Liverpool we have conceded a lot of goals.
We conceded loads before he came. This isn’t a Mignolet phenomenon in the last 5-6 seasons.
In fact, the one constant has been Martin Skrtel.
Reina’s declining years. We need to find a mid to late 2000s Reina sooner or later if we want to be a consistently good side again. Maybe it’s this German Barca keeper but that doesn’t seem likely to me. It needs to be someone of that sort of level though.
Good shout on Lloris. He might not be quite on the De Gea/Courtious/Hart level but he’d have been a massive improvement plus he’s France captain so you know you’re getting a leader. We were never going to have the bottle to make that kind of move though.
Outstanding ball playing keepers are few and far between and no top keeper is coming near us without a consistent year on year Champions League spot. Lack of Champions League was allegedly the reason Lloris wanted to leave Spurs, so much as he would be a good candidate I cant see any danger of it actually happening.
Mignolet is at least capable of making great instinctive reaction saves and the manager seems to think the weaknesses in his game can be improved by coaching. Playing with a consistent back line would probably help him some and frankly having the crowd on his back seems unlikely to improve things.
Although Mignolet has now been at the club a few years, lets see if Klopp can get a more consistent performance from him before we take a punt on some other keeper thats just as likely to wilt in the Anfield pressure cooker.
Agreed. Klopp will make the final call soon enough, I believe. If Mig does not improve or play as per Klopp instruction, he would be shipped out during summer window.
Obvious that Klopp has already decided that Bogdan is not good enough to be number 2, therefore Ward was called back.
We should have pulled all the stops out to sign Lloris, Cabaye and Varane to play behind, in front of and alongside Mama. I was posting as much 18 months ago.
we might have a chance with Cabaye, but not possible that Varane type of highly rated player would come to a non champion league club like us. (we got Illori instead; I am still hoping this kid would improve and still be a squad member for us; I have not written him off yet).
To say that having an upgraded GK will improve our finishing is clearly nonsense as seen at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge this season.
To be fair I said it might, not that it would. Also don’t think what’s been going on at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford has as much to do with their finishing ability as it does to do with players not liking their manager, but that’s a conversation for another time I suspect!
While I agree with the article in general, the one thing Mig does is stop shots. I could maybe buy “we’re putting corners to close to the keeper because our keeper never comes out in training” but I think the idea that strikers need to shoot less accurately against Migs is a drawing an exceptional long straw.
The only positive thing that people seem to say about mignolet is that he’s a good shot stopper. Well I’m sorry, but that should be the bare minimum requirement for a goalkeeper at this level, like a maths teacher having their GCSE maths.
I am in the camp that believes a lot of our defensive woes are down to mignolet. I think our defenders panic about him and that forces some of the mistakes and poor decision making that we have seen too often. Put it this way, those defenders do not make half of those mistakes if they have got a Courtois or a De Gea behind them, a guy they can trust to leave the ball to or dig them out of a hole.
It will be interesting to see what Klopp does in the summer regarding the GK situation but I will be amazed if Mignolet is still in nets on the opening day of next season.
Agreed. I am in the camp that thinks a defender knowing that only Migs is behind him would be on the verge of panic. And his spectacular shot stops (and they ARE spectacular sometimes) can be down to his poor positioning. I can’t recall a spectacular shot stop by Clemence, for instance. A good keeper sees the penalty area as his domain: Simon patrols the goal mouth.
We had two problems with Mig and Brad Jones – neither were good enough to be #1 and #2 respectively. These two problems could have been solved in one with signing a better keeper than Mig. Mig goes to #2 and gets his chance to work on his flaws and fight for a first team spot. Instead they just sign Bodgan.
Think Adam Smith is spot on.
For me, Mignolet is an ideal son in law or whatever, smart, well mannered, etc. but I want some real animal as a goalie. The likes of Oliver Kahn and Manuel Neuer or Petr Cech manage to instill fear on the opponents. Theras Mignolet (pretty much like Iker Casillas) have always been charming boys so far. Mignolet might improve his technique, but he is simply to old to become a proper bastard as needed right now.
Knowing, you got a tower in the back, gives you more opportunities upfront and Danny Ward seems to fit better by mentality as what I read of him.
As Pablo said being a good shot stopper is the minimum to expect from a keeper; that talent is the position of last resort. It’s what happens before we get there is most important: commanding the area, distributing with purpose and communicating/directing the defence. Mingolet is poor at everything apart from shot stopping and so is a cause of uncertainty and worry. He has to be replaced and I doubt if any top side would be in for him.
one nice advantage that Ward has over two other keepers is that he came up from youth level and grew into possible first team keeper though his loan spell. Apart from half a season with Aberdeen, he has not proven himself yet. But as a young keeper coming through the system, fans would be more forgiving of he makes one or two mistakes along the way. (we were quite forgiving to Kirkland and Carsen)
Ward, in my opinion, should be given Europa and FA Cup matches. And he would perform without pressure (I hope).
Welcome home and all the best, Danny boy.
Despite all the anti Mignolet rhetoric on here, I think you will find that he is equal to Lloris on clean sheets so far this season (7 each), and one behind Hart (8), whilst Cech leads the way with 9. Why would we pay 35 mill for a keeper with the same stats as Mignolet??
Because he brings so much more to the team.
Now if you look at goals scored or assists provided so far this season…………………………………