THESE days, there seems to be a common tendency to want something to go a certain way just so people can say they were right, even if it has a negative impact elsewhere.
Anybody waiting to be proven right ‘when’ Liverpool ‘inevitably’ miss out on the league title, for example.
With that being said, I’m going to take this opportunity to do something rarely seen.
I’m going to admit that I was wrong about Simon Mignolet.
Anyone who has heard me talk on TAW shows or read my stuff will know I’m one of the Belgian’s biggest critics. He burnt my head out a long time ago and nothing he could do would persuade me that he was anything other than completely useless.
Anytime the goalkeeper did something wrong I shouted it from the rooftops and every time he made a save or stopped a goal I dismissed it as being ‘the bare minimum a half-decent goalkeeper should do’. I was a living, breathing example of how players can never do anything right if you’re caught up in the world of confirmation bias.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread all of a sudden. I still don’t think he’s the long-term solution for us and his kicking is still terrible. He regularly plays passes that put our defenders into all sorts of trouble and I’m one of the few that still thinks Loris Karius is a better answer for the future.
Yet, I didn’t think he had it in his locker to do some of the things he’s done in recent matches. He’s sprinted off his line to clear through balls and rescue his defenders, for example. He’s looked strong and commanding when crosses have come into the box or we’ve had to deal with set-pieces. He’s kept a clean sheet. Most shocking of all, he’s actually released the ball quickly instead of just making it look like he was going to do that while hanging onto it for as long as possible.
He actually looks like an entirely different goalkeeper at times and I for one am made up with that.
One of the most noticeable things over the last couple of weeks has been how little the goalkeeping situation has been part of the conversation. Prior to Jürgen Klopp’s decision to drop Karius and bring Mignolet back in it felt like there were chats about the goalkeeper going on every day.
The weird thing is that the Anfield crowd also seemed to be with me in having lost any semblance of patience with Mignolet before he was dropped but he’s being afforded lots of time and wiggle room since he was brought back in. Would everyone have been so quick to shrug shoulders and move on had Karius conceded the goal against Stoke instead of Mignolet? I’m not so sure. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing if the crowd as a whole is developing a bit more patience.
When Migs decided to juggle the ball over Sergio Aguero’s head in the match against Manchester City I briefly wondered what the hell was going on. He was cool as you like, though, and never once looked like he was out of control or out of his comfort zone. Fair play.
Even in my deepest, darkest days of criticising everything that Mignolet did I never wanted to be ‘right’. All I wanted was for Liverpool to have the best possible chance of winning games. We appear to now have that with a revitalised goalkeeper and I really hope he continues to prove me wrong week in, week out until the Premier League trophy arrives at Anfield in May.
I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions, I don’t see the point in them. People rarely do what they promise themselves they’re going to do and even when they manage it, it’s only for a month or so. So this isn’t a resolution, it’s a challenge to myself. Moving forward, I want to be able acknowledge when I’m wrong about something more often.
For supporters, football shouldn’t be about being proven ‘right’. Every single Red should be absolutely gutted when we drop points and determined to redouble our efforts to support the team next time out, not secretly a little bit pleased that your prediction that ‘we’re not good enough’ was correct. We’re all Reds together and we all want nothing more than to see the league trophy returned to its home in our cabinet.
Up the sometimes wrong Reds.