I’VE been thinking about social media a lot recently. Or, to be more specific, about Twitter.
I’m a big Twitter fan. It took me a while to get into it, not understanding what it was about at first. But now I’m on it all the time. In so many ways it’s a brilliant way to get in touch with like-minded people and I love how many strangers I feel like I know because of mutual discussions around Liverpool Football Club. I certainly wouldn’t have got involved with The Anfield Wrap without it as a medium.
But I’ve also been considering its flaws in the last few weeks. The obvious problem with it is that it empowers the weird little keyboard warriors to send people abuse and hide behind a fake profile picture or an egg. Yet that’s not what I’m referring to. Those flaws are obvious and if you come across anyone like that you can just block them for being a cretin. (Easy for me to say, obviously. I occasionally get called a twat or a bit thick; a far cry from getting death threats or abuse about my sexuality).
No, my issue with social media at the moment is the way in which it allows us to question a player’s ability to such an extent that it can lead to that becoming a story. I wonder whether players will ever be given time to settle and adapt without their every move becoming analysed in minute detail.
I don’t want to get into the debate about the goalkeeper really as it’s been done already, but I will use Loris Karius as a brief example. I do not think that he’s been flawless since his arrival. His performances have been found wanting in every match and he’s certainly not the cool, calm and collected person we were all expecting before he’d even touched a ball.
Yet, if you look at social media, you’d think he’d been catastrophic; throwing the ball into the back of his own net and booting it over the Main Stand every time he tries to pass it out. He might not have looked particularly comfortable but we’ve still only conceded two goals in the last four games and kept two clean sheets in the process – including our first clean sheet in the league.
Meanwhile the history of Simon Mignolet is getting re-written, with some fans convincing themselves that he was Ray Clemence re-born before being dropped. He’s unquestionably looked better at times this season but he is still deeply flawed and I’d argue we have a good idea of his ceiling.
When it comes to Karius we don’t know his ceiling and the issue seems to be that he doesn’t look comfortable dealing with crosses or high balls; as though this was bread and butter to Mignolet. My point here isn’t to do an assassination job on the Belgian and if that’s how it’s coming across I genuinely apologise. I’ve made my opinion on him clear in the past but I have no personal issue with him — I just want the best for the team.
Here’s the thing, though. Karius literally hasn’t had a save to make in a competitive match so far. I’m not talking about dealing with set-pieces, I mean a save like David De Gea had to make from Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho at the weekend.
The set-pieces thing is a separate issue, with both Mignolet and Karius struggling from corners and free-kicks, with the defence itself not exactly being covered in glory with how it deals with these things. It strikes me that this is a systemic problem that goes deeper than just who’s between the sticks.
Karius distribution has left a lot to be desired considering he was sold to us as this ‘keeper who was amazing with his feet. Yet at one point on Monday night De Gea kicked the ball straight out of play. Under no pressure whatsoever, he booted it straight into touch.
There have been times, even recently, when the Spaniard has struggled to deal with crosses. Against Bournemouth just last year Junior Stanislas scored against him direct from a corner. There’s a brilliant YouTube video showing the worst mistakes of Manuel Neuer’s career, with numerous crosses being fumbled.
My point isn’t to say that our German goalkeeper is *definitely* going to become the next De Gea or Neuer. Yet I’m wondering whether social media and the ability to write players off so quickly and have others back up your opinion means that some fans will take forever to see Karius as anything other than a bumbling fool who makes them feel uncomfortable.
Loris Karius: Made more saves from shots taken outside the box (53) than any other goalkeeper in Bundesliga this season
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 24, 2016
In the wake of Monday night, there was a video doing the rounds of the moment that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a free header, with some on Twitter claiming that the ‘keeper was at fault and should have done better. I watched it and wondered what else he could have done, exactly. The cross was never his to claim and instead he spread himself well and might have done enough to put the United forward off. Those belittling Karius for it seemed to me to be showing a degree of confirmation bias with that clip.
Now I’ve talked about the goalkeeper quite a lot there, but that’s simply because it’s the best example to hand. You could replace Karius with Lovren when he first arrived and have a similar conversation. Some still don’t trust him because of those early performances, despite how consistently well he’s played for us for about a year or so now.
If Joel Matip had had a slightly dodgy first few performances would he be going through the same problems? Would calls for Jürgen Klopp to bring back Mamadou Sakho be growing ever louder had the Cameroonian struggled rather than excelled for us at the start of his career?
I’m a hypocrite, of course. I’m sure at times I’ve written people off and tweeted as much in the heat of the moment. I’m also stubborn and I struggle to adjust my opinion unless presented with indisputable facts.
I’ve been having a good conversation with Mike Nevin on Twitter over the last couple of days about the ‘keepers, for example, with Mike pointing out that Mignolet is currently at the age that goalies tend to develop and mature. Yet I do wonder how long it would take me to get over my own problems with the Belgian, should Klopp decide to bring him back in.
I fear my decision to use the example of the goalkeepers means that that is all people will focus on, so I’ll try to phrase it in a succinct question or two: Does the development of social media and 24-hour rolling news mean that players will never again be given time to settle before opinions are formed and set in stone? Does the need to be ‘right’ trump the ability for players to develop and grow?
On the free Anfield Wrap podcast on Tuesday we had a discussion about Emre Can and how he fits into this variation of a Klopp team.
I thought it was a balanced chat about a player who struggled against Manchester United, having been out injured for quite a long time.
I’ve already seen some on Twitter suggest that we were wrong for writing him off, when I’m not sure that’s what we did. That’s the thing about social media, though, everyone has their favourites. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to have nuanced conversations about anything. One hundred and forty characters is a small amount of room when you’re trying to make a big point.
Karius, for example, hasn’t had the perfect start to his Liverpool career, but he definitely hasn’t been ‘shite’. He could have done a lot better but he also could have been a lot worse. It’s that sort of balanced view that we need more of, even it isn’t likely to garner a host of retweets.
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Bang on. Was Ian Rush the finished product when he came into the team? Or Hansen? Or even Stevie or Xabi?
For me it’s down to the childlike neediness of people, displayed in crappy memes and gifs. We sold sterling, so the next thing: Twitter declares we don’t need him because we have Jordan Ibe, neglecting the fact that the lad had his own game to look after, never mind emulating sterling’s impact on top of it. It’s like that episode of The Simpsons involving Homer’s “half-assed over-parenting”. To Bart: “you could be President of the United States! No – you WILL be President of the United States!” It’s a kingdom of ill-judges absolutes. Loris was the new Neuer! He WILL be the new Neuer! Well, maybe – if we cut him some slack. Same goes for everyone.
It goes further than the keepers, The squad is full of players rated as “joeys” when starting out Lucas, ten years at the club. Henderson, club captain. Lovren solid defender, Lallana, fancy pants going nowhere, Fermino, never a striker, Coutinho, stop shooting from there. Now look at them all, each is vital to our future, patience has paid a dividend with them all, maybe just maybe twitter should be f*cked off and we create our own social media called “not listening”
the argument goes both ways, its not always slaughtering our lads from day 1 – there are those who were so into Karius being brilliant for the sole reason he wasn’t Mignolet, that they will come up with anything to avoid having to take a backward step on social media. Sakho is the same simply through not being 2014/15 Dejan Lovren. Some just will not accept he has been a dick (although that had died down now – until someone fucks up). So , what happens is they’ll jump on any little thing with both size 9s if anyone who is not Sakho or Karius screws up.
The thing is here that none of us having a fucking clue what this is supposed to look like. So many have tied their colours to a mast that they cannot back down any more and admit they might be wrong. twitter does that. I wonder how many Lovren haters have come out and said I was wrong? Not many, they just slowly morph into those who always knew Lovren would come good. As you did, I’ll use Karius as an example but it could be absolutely any player ever.
Will Karius become De Gea? No idea. But the argument to say he might do is no argument at all. Does Karius, currently, have exactly the same issues as Mignolet at the moment? possibly but I have no idea what the plan is they’ve been given, yet arguing we’ve not seen him make a save yet is nonsense as the one reason given for keeping Mignolet was his shot stopping and it was the other stuff – kicking, catching, instilling confidence – that was case to replace him. You could also argue Karius has not had to make save, which is a different to not making one.
Should Karius be allowed to stay in, develop and make his mistakes and learn over a period of time? Maybe, I don’t know – but doesn’t that go for a Moreno or any other young lad learning his way in this league? and if anyone brings up Moreno being older – its only a year and they’ve both had similar top flight experience either here or in their home country – Moreno 111apps, karius 97.
End of it, we are so quick to jump on these lads when none of us have any qualification for judging what we are looking at or what the end goal is. We’ve only got hindsight to form arguments and that’s been proven to be a crap indicator of what happen going forward, so we tend to use ever more random points of reference. None of which ever really make much sense.
lets just let Klopp go with his judgment here. Its probably better than ours. And he has the benefit of knowing what the fuck is, and is supposed to be, going on.
I think you’ve made some good points here KM, but I’ll respond to a couple of bits. Firstly, yes Mignolet is praised for his shot-stopping. I personally do not think he’s as good at that as the credit over it he’s given. Short of being completely and utterly, directly and unarguably responsible for a goal people seem to say he’s ‘done well’ because the bar with him is now so low. We conceded three against Arsenal and I think he could have done better with at least one of them, possibly all three if I’m being really harsh. The Rose goal v Spurs was avoidable if he was quicker of his line and more decisive.
Secondly, the Moreno point is flawed in so much as he has had an opportunity. He’s played 96 games in all competitions. Not 4. A better comparison would be if someone like Trent Alexander-Arnold came in as cover for Nathaniel Clyne and was slated after just a couple of games.
I completely agree that Klopp’s judgement is better than ours. I also believe Bundesliga journalists who say that Karius’ start hasn’t surprised them and that he’ll go on to be a brilliant player for us. They’ve actually watched him consistently, unlike most people on Twitter and the likes – myself very much included.
Sure. And yes, Moreno has had his chance, but then again Karius should be past learning on the job with the number of games he has under his belt for Mainz. Is it a systemic thing? I don’t think so, but the bollockings dished out by Lovren and Henderson may indicate other wise.
I have no problem letting him carry on. I just find it weird how this whole criticism/backing of players process seems to work especially when a rival for the position is brought into the question. People take sides and endlessly justify their stance when the reality is somewhere in between I guess.
Is this site, itself not guilty of overanalysing?
Just be thankful our keeper isnt Claudio Bravo!
He is most definitely the victim of over-analysis. He has been a little hesitant on crosses, which is as much to do with not being in-tune with the centre-backs just yet as it does anything else. It’s to be expected. De Gea was beaten to a pulp when he first came to this league. Absolutely battered. He looked so unprepared for this league it was shocking. Now he’s the best keeper in the league by a considerable distance. Of course you cannot expect every keeper to go like De Gea, but it just gives some perspective.
It seems to me that some fans are desperate to be the first to pass judgement on a new player so that if he does turn out to be a flop they can say they said it from the start.
Lovren, Lucas, Milner, Can, Lallana, Firmino and Origi are just examples from our current squad of players who were at some point written off as not good enough before establishing themselves as quality players, with Lovren, Milner, Lallana and Firmino proving themselves vital components of what we are trying to do.
The starting point for De Gea and Karius are not even close. De Gea was 20, Karius 23. One had 50 games over a season and a half, the other almost double that over 3 seasons. One spoke no English, the other speaks it fluently. DE Gea was a scrawny rat when he arrived, Karius is a big, well built lad. The level of maturity, physicality and experience are not comparable and so the start they each made shouldn’t be compared either.
But, and this isn’t a dig, its another way of justifying the stance. Pro Karius, then look at de Gea and its wrong but it who we choose as its fits the narrative – poor start but grew into a top GK. Pepe Reina is a better comparison in terms of age, experience etc, but that wont happen as it doesn’t fit the stance due his very good start with us.
We all do it, for all range of players we’ve had down the years. Its just weird we are all (or mostly all) so fixated on being right. Karius, as Adam says, should go on to great things based on various experts, and I am fine with that, but in the here and now, lets just see it for what it is and leave the justifying to someone else.
This article is spot on in the context of social media and how we view and perceive Liverpool players; I am of the camp that was genuinely excited when we signed Karius in the last window, my friends who follow the Bundesliga was also waxing lyrical about how awesome the guy was, that he’s the next big German Goalie.
I was also quite taken aback when I saw how different he was compared with that video (which you actually shared in this article) of his best saves when he was with Mainz. Yet, I personally chided myself and said that its an adjustment period and he would take some time to adjust to a new league, a new physicality (am I right to assume this?), new team mates, a new goalie coach; one pre-season and a couple of games does not make a goalie super or molded.
I blame a combination of social media accessibility and a cult of cynicism when it comes to us judging our players, maybe the years of strife has taken its toll on our collective psyche as fans; look at how we judged players like Lovren and others which got written off and now are key cogs in the machine.
I support the team no matter what, I trust that the team is in better hands and I will let the talking be done on the field of battle and not the semi-anonymous world of Twitter