THE Anfield Wrap’s Paul Cope wrote an article about Simon Mignolet on Wednesday which raised some interesting points.
One particularly interesting point raised was that you can simultaneously think that Liverpool could do with a better number one but also not think that Mignolet is absolutely shite. I’m absolutely adamant that the club should be investing in a new goalkeeper as soon as possible, but even I don’t think he’s shite. Not in a Roy Hodgson as a manager kind of way, at least.
Yet there was something I felt was missing within Paul’s article that sums up how I, and perhaps other supporters who don’t like Mignolet, feel.
I think one of the big problems around the goalkeepers right now is that supporters don’t seem to be able to have a proper, balanced conversation. Perhaps there’s an extent to which that is down to the alternatives to the Belgian. After all, if you’re not a fan of his then you must be saying you want Loris Karius in goal, mustn’t you? And we all know Karius is absolutely shite, isn’t he? The answer to both of those questions is not necessarily.
What grates most when it comes to conversations around the goalkeeper is the fact that Mignolet’s “improvement” over the last 12 months means that some supporters are willing to make excuses for him every time Liverpool concede. Prior to Leicester at the weekend The Reds had conceded 12 goals with the Belgian between the sticks and I didn’t see him get criticism for any of them. In his article Paul quite rightly points out that he made some good saves against Manchester City, for example, but fails to acknowledge that for one of them he was beaten at his near post.
It hasn’t mattered who Liverpool have been playing or how the goal has come about, Mignolet couldn’t have done anything about any of them. Even at the weekend there were people defending his every move. There’s was “nothing he could have done” about the first goal because Shinji Okazaki was holding onto him. Never mind that goalkeepers up and down the country push attackers off them every single weekend to give themselves a good run at a corner. It’s irrelevant that he had two free hands by the time he actually jumped for and missed the ball.
Then there’s the second goal, when the stopper pushed the ball smack bang into the centre of the box rather than over the bar for a corner. According to his staunchest defenders ‘keepers are “grateful to get anything” on a shot like that and couldn’t possibly help where it goes after that. It’s not his fault that he wasn’t able to push it behind, he did the best that he was able to.
As for the penalty, I still to this day don’t understand what he was thinking. Whatever you think of the ref, why the hell was Mignolet even giving him a question to answer by running out and trying to kick the ball rather than using his hands? You had people slowing the incident down to “prove” he got a touch of the ball rather than just admitting he messed up. He also got caught in possession of the ball at one point, as Karius did against Arsenal, but little fuss was made. It was like it never happened.
Has Mignolet improved over the past year? Absolutely, it would be folly to say otherwise. But I’m not convinced he’s improved as much as some people say he has. I think it’s a case of expectations being lowered to mean that no goal is his fault unless he literally boots the ball into the back of his own net.
Then there’s the curious case of Karius. His numbers from his time in Germany suggest that he’s a much better goalkeeper than we’ve been watching, where he appears to be made of smoke. The goals that he’s conceded haven’t been world beaters, with Tuesday night’s in Moscow being a prime example. Yet still, the conversation isn’t balanced. If that had been Mignolet then I’d be willing to bet that there would be scores of people lining up to say that the ball was hit at an incredible pace and that he saw it late because of the wall.
Perhaps a better example is the miss by Daniel Sturridge. For a striker of his quality, that miss was every bit as bad as Karius not making the save, yet I’ve seen people say that he’d have scored it if he’d been playing more and “built up a rhythm”. That’s often the case with outfield players; they’re excused a few poor games because they’ve been out for so long, so why don’t we afford the same leeway to the goalkeeper? Where are the calls for him to be given a run in the team to see if he relaxes into his role? Yes he had a run in the team last season, but he’d only just got over breaking his finger and was new to the Premier League.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I think Karius is better than Mignolet. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of the way the conversation about the two of them tends to go. I absolutely hold myself to that too, by the way. If Karius had been in goal against Leicester I’m quite sure I’d have been talking about how Okazaki was holding his arm and how he definitely touched the ball before Anthony Taylor gave the penalty. It’s something else I agree with from Paul’s article, how we all look more favourably on the players we like.
All I really want is for there to be a fair and honest conversation. Much as Paul makes the point that it’s not mutually exclusive to think Mignolet’s not shite but that Liverpool need a better goalkeeper, so too you’re allowed to say that the defence was poor but that whoever is between the sticks should do better. Regardless of who is in goal, I can’t remember the last time one of them properly dug the defence out when it mattered.
Mignolet is a very good shot stopper, as proven by his excellent penalty record. My issue is that too many people seem to use that as cover for his weaknesses. Being a goalkeeper at the level Liverpool need if they hope to compete for silverware is about so much more than stopping shots. You need to have good distribution, which he lacks, and you need to communicate, which he doesn’t. The latter point is especially relevant considering none of the defenders talk to each other, and the bloke behind them might as well be a mime.
Paul’s right that the “anti-Mignolet brigade” gave the goalkeeper no credit when he tipped a Leicester shot over the bar at the weekend; I know, because I was one of them. The problem is that I feel like there needs to be some counter argument that he’s done something brilliant when really it’s the very least you expect from a top goalkeeper. This is what I’m talking about when I mention balanced conversation. Much as it’s unfair of me to criticise him when there’s not much he can do, it’s unfair of others to praise him when all he’s done is the least he should be doing.
I absolutely agree with Paul that there aren’t many better goalkeepers out there who are significantly better than Mignolet, but I’m not convinced that there are countless central defenders in the market who are both available and also a definite upgrade on Dejan Lovren. Much as we might watch other goalkeepers and think they’re much better than Mignolet, so too we all seem to think every other team has got defenders who are worlds better than the Croatian. The thing is, Lovren is a top four defender. I know because he’s the first-choice centre-back of a team that finished fourth last season.
I’ve managed to make it all the way through this piece without mentioning John Achterberg, which I think is a miracle in itself. I’m not going to labour the point as we don’t know what he does with them in training, but if you’ve got two goalkeepers who are widely considered to be not good enough by the majority of fans, it might be worth asking the question about his role in their development.
What’s the point of all this, then? It’s in the hope that we can all start talking a bit more fairly about both goalkeepers. I readily admit that Mignolet burnt my head out long ago, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to be less critical of him moving forward. If you’re someone that’s excused his every error, perhaps you might do well to ask yourself what you’d have been saying if it was Karius who had conceded a goal instead of the Belgian.
I think Mignolet is the goalkeeping equivalent of Lovren. They’re both better than some people think, but they’ve got more than a few mistakes in their locker. There aren’t as many alternatives out there as some supporters think, but Liverpool need to improve on them if they want to truly challenge for the top honours. They’re both top four players, but neither of them are good enough to propel a team on towards the title.
There might not be many goalkeepers out there as good as David de Gea, Thibaut Courtois or Manuel Neuer, but we sure as hell know that neither of Liverpool senior ‘keepers fit the bill.
It’s possible to think that the defence was poor and the goalkeeper could have done better. Those sentences aren’t, as Paul would say, mutually exclusive…
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I’m off the opinion that Mignolet is most definately not shite, has improved these last 12 months but we still need a better keeper.
As pointed out above our expectations of a very good keeper has been lowered because we’ve had to watch Mignolet for several seasons now.
Yes he’s a good shot stopper but he’s deficient in so many other areas that he can’t be relied upon.
Karius hasn’t done much to take his spot either.
Every time he takes to the pitch he does something that sends our nerves haywire and he’s meant to be the keeper better with the ball at his feet.
So we have 2 keepers fighting it out to be our No1 but no one has faith in either, not a good position to be in.
Meanwhile Ward has looked more confident and assured than both but he’s played so few games in red how can we be really sure.
I don’t think anything has been lowered in terms of expectations. If anything the gap we think we see has widened between our GKs and the rest in terms of what we think a GK should be.
We’ve reached a point where any good stuff is pushed away and the bad stuff jumped upon in 2 secs. Not to say we ignore it, but why does it take over the minds of everyone?
a 3 2 win a Leicester has been totally dominated by goalkeeper talk, which is a bit mad really. We’ve lost 2 in 11 this season. Take City out of the picture for a moment as just one of the days that we’ve dished out so often to top 6 clubs in recent seasons, and we’re on the same goals conceded as Spurs and their supposed rock solid defence (and Keeper). We’ve developed a really unhealthy obsession with the subject to the point everything else is overlooked.
That hypocrisy was in reverse last summer though. Everyone who had seen a youtube clip of karius was convinced he was the nuts and should be in from day 1, and every day he was out with his broken hand simply caused to highlight any Mignolet blemish by about 100.
Its also worth pointing out De Gea let one in through his legs last night, Lloris booted a clearance at his own player and almost into his own net on Tuesday and got beaten at his near post against Chelsea from a much more straightforward chance than the City one, Courtois punched a ball straight through the middle of a packed area against Arsenal and booted the ball out on the full on three occasions. There are plenty of others this season alone.
Yet they are excused from any criticism at all which skews the discussion. Its portrayed as a uniquely Liverpool issue. My point being if we are going to be fair in comparing the goalies then we should also be balanced in what we compare them to – either others or each other.
Seems an impossible task though.
Any conversation regarding Mignolet – and Karius – has to start with the acceptance that he’s shite. Accepting that they’re shite, you then have to look at precisely what it is they’re shite at. Once you determine what they’re shite at you can then look at who would improve you in those areas. It’s like any other problem. You have to be willing to acknowledge its exisence before you can start to deal with it and unfortunately there are many supporters who refuse to acknowledge that we have a problem and are all too happy to offer up excuses rather than solutions.
no mate – what’s happened here is fan polarization. The more fans ignore anything good and jump all over the bad as validation of the point, so the other side do the opposite. The more someone argues with you, the more your point becomes entrenched to the point there is no turning back – you’ve gone all in and there you are for evermore. Cant be seen to lose face online, that would simply never do.
Its gone so far that this is now a daily argument. regardless of anything to start it, any Liverpool discussion ends up with a row about the goalies.
Go through the comments section on here on the TAW facebook page. Its fucking insane. An article about Dan Sturridge or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – with 5 comments there is a comment about the defence (for no apparent reason) that leads to a kick-off about the GK situation.
Its a uniquely Liverpool thing these days. And its all a bit pathetic if I’m honest.
I really don’t think supporters have the capacity to solve the problems with our ‘keepers (genuinely, how do you think we can?), but supporters definitely have the capacity to make them much worse by abusing them endlessly and destroying their confidence. From what I’ve seen that’s the difference between the two camps, not that one camp is refusing to acknowledge that we have problems. Having a balanced discussion is not the same as offering excuses. What good will destroying their confidence achieve exactly? Shouldn’t we be highlighting all the mistakes ‘keepers of other teams are making and destroying their confidence instead?
I agree with you that we make our goalkeepers worse. Just listen to the noise we make when Karius has ball at his feet. How can we expect him not to make a mistake when we make him nervous. I thought our job as supporters his to intimedate the opposition so that they don’t play well but we do that to our players. Something is seriously wrong with us.
I prefer Karius over Mignolet because the team’s build up play is much better when plays cause he can distribute the ball better than Migs. Most of the time Karius starts or continues the build up but Migs ends the build up most of the time cause he either kicks out of play or the opposition or lovren who then kicks out of play.
For those who likes stats:
Games = 7
Total shots conceded = 65 Average = 9 per game
Shots on target = 33 Average = 4 per game
Goals conceded = 14 Average = 2 per game
Games = 3
Total shots conceded = 19 Average = 6 per game
Shots on target = 4 Average = 1 per game
Goals conceded = 3 Average = 1 per game
Conclusion: Karius is better for the overall play of the team
Rodgers was – is – a very good manager, not the shite that people have allowed themselves to believe for the sake of simplicity. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t have limits, or that Klopp was not an upgrade. FSG have done many, many good things for the club, but to suggest as much makes you, in the modern parlance, an “apologist.”
I love the club, but lord knows the support can be tediously manichean. One of the reasons that TAW remains a majestic oasis in the desert is their ability to accomodate nuance without losing passion. If only more folk out there could follow that lead.
we like a good moan,hahahahahaha
I blame the fans and media pundits with this whole GK debacle. Karius last season should have continued and Klopp would hv continued if not for OTT criticism. He did resist those calls to a certain extent, but it was too much for Karius to be left exposed to that scrutiny. All he needs is a run of games and he will meet the criteria for being lfc’s number 1 GK. There are calls for Ward to be given a chance, but Klopp is right to protect the lad from a similar scenario. Ward has had errors at Huddersfield, their footballing philosophy is totally different to that of lfc and it would take time for Ward to unlearn that and imbibe our own. Karius st Mainz showed attributes that perfectly match lfc’s needs. He is quick thinking, intelligent in distribution, brave as a sweeper keeper and also good at shot stopping. I’ve already noticed multiple chances created by Karius with his quick distribution from the bck, specially against Sevilla, and hadnt seen that since Reina was sold. He would’ve saved that Spartak freekick if he was given a run of games. It was all bout timing the dive for that fierce freekick; some wouldnt ve even reacted, Simon would have punched it to opposition player for a tap in. Still believe Simon should be phased out and Karius should be given a run of games…it is against popular opinion but surely Klopp wants the same
Btw gr8 article.
I agree with all this. On the pundits’ role: we all made jokes about Spartak’s “Win or Die” banner, but that’s Carragher’s analysis of every Liverpool performance in a nutshell. And with the majority of our supporters hanging on every word he says for obvious reasons, and the herd mentality of social media, for me he does more harm than good for the team, generally. If anyone needs more balance and less venom when talking about Liverpool it’s him.
On Ward: I honestly have no idea how good he is as a goalkeeper, and I’m genuinely baffled by the certainty with which supporters have judged him to be better than the other two. But where he does stand out for me is with his personality: he doesn’t seem to be shy at all, and seems to get on well with almost all the other players. Obviously I don’t know him personally so I’m just going by what I’ve seen from clips and pictures. If he is as good as supporters have decided he is, then I can see how he’ll make a great ‘keeper for the club. But I agree Klopp might be protecting him for now, because he will make mistakes like all ‘keepers do everywhere, and yet again we’re creating a pressurised environment for him to step into. I think we’ll have a good idea by the end of the season, so the best thing to do for now is just support all three whatever happens.
Carragher gets leeway even though he intimated the GK giving the oppo lad a dig in the throat – not sure that’d work today Jamie.
Ward is simply following the Liverpool fan mantra when it comes to these situations – the lad who isn’t playing is always better than the one who is. See Karius in July 2016 for details.
yes I agree.
My biggest gripe is Mignolet and Karius have the same weaknesses which I would say is bad instincts on crosses and bad positioning. Which makes no sense why you would go and get a backup keeper that has the same weaknesses.
I’ve seen just a little bit of Danny Ward, but enough that I would say put him in. Other Premier League teams wanted him badly, so he’s got to have the qualities of a Premier League keeper.
At this point I think if you don’t go with Ward which at this point I can’t understand that logic. Mignolet is still losing you more games than he is winning. Then it is time for the goal keeping coach to be fired.
“Mignolet is still losing you more games than he is winning.”
I’m not sure about that. He’s saved two penalties already this season. One against Hoffenheim and the other against Leicester. We won both games by one goal.
On the other hand, the only game he has lost this season was the City abomination and nobody blames him for that.
“Then it is time for the goal keeping coach to be fired.”
Agree with you Josh. You can’t keep buying potentials, and they turn out to make mistakes that look like school boy errors at times.
Some of these errors stem from a lack of confidence, and it’s not always fans causing this at the grounds.
I don’t know how the process works at LFC training grounds, but I would wager that the manager’s philosophy is explained and understood by the staff, scouts, team, etc, and then they go about applying this at various levels.
So I wonder if John Atcherberg ever understood the attacking philosophy that Klopp is trying to instill in his players? Did he even understand Roger’s attacking philosophy?
Maybe he needs to be moved on, not because he is bad coach, he just may not be the right fit for the job.
honestly think lfc have goalkeeping problems because John Achterberg our trainer. why people think otherwise is beyond me. Achterberg has been at lfc for more than 5 years yet has not improved any of our keepers. if Mignolet or Karius are not good enough then why will he be excepted from blame. until he is given the boot, I don’t we will ever have a world class keeper. truth is one and only one n won’t change with time.
I actually like Mignolet quite a lot. He’s certainly dug us out a fair few times, which is not something I feel he gets credit for. That save off the Vardy penalty, regardless of the circumstances leading to it, was a lot better than has been widely acknowledged. Vardy really got hold of it and it came at him very quickly.
I also remember several instances in our top four run-in last season where he pulled out some superb saves. His problem is a narrative has developed around him and it’s proving very difficult to change.
If you compare that narrative against someone like Lloris, who is undoubtedly a quality keeper, you see a picture develop. I’ve seen Lloris get caught dwelling on the ball loads of times, make ill-judged rushes out of his area and let goals in at his near post, including against Marcos Alonso this season.
People don’t say anything because of the collective media circle-jerk about Spurs, but the facts are there.
It’s funny how the supposed top keepers get let off mistakes as they make enough good shot stops. Yet that’s exactly the stick mignolet, and no doubt karius in time, get beaten with.
There’s a masochistic element within our fanbase that only wants to direct opprobrium at our own players. By the way, I do not refer to the article when I say this as I’d say this site has the best attitude when it comes to support.
Like I mentioned with Lloris, you just don’t hear any criticism of him. Ever. They lost 1-2 to Chelsea the same day we beat Palace 1-0. Lloris let Alonso slot it past him at his near post and not a word was said. Mignolet couldn’t have got away with that.
There’s much truth in both Adam’s piece and the readers comments. In the Keepers’ defence, both keepers are overly exposed by the worst Liverpool back line, including holding midfielders, in modern times so it’s difficult to portray a fair appraisal. Clearly, neither the goalkeepers or defensive players have confidence in each other. Self-confidence is the most powerful tool in the box. Players thrive on it. With the right mindset, ordinary players can achieve extraordinary things. Unfortunately, in my opinion, some of the personnel we have brought in are not good enough to play at the level required to gather cups in May and it’s draining the life out of the team. And that is the crux of the problem. If it’s not the keepers fault it’s the defence. If it’s not the defence it’s midfield. If it’s not midfield it’s the strikers. It’s like Groundhog Day every match day and it’s affecting everybody’s game, but rightly or wrongly, for whatever reason, the buck, more often than not, tends to stop with the keeper. Whilst a quality replacement would help, I’m not sure it would resolve Liverpool’s defensive frailties.
In criticism of the keepers, neither command their box, neither appear to be vocal and neither are built like the terminator so fail to have a presence.
Re coaching Maybe Mignolet has reached the level he is capable of playing at. He’s a seasoned pro so not sure there is much more he can bring to the table. He’s a decent keeper but but maybe just falls short at the highest level. He’s certainly not, for want of a better term, shite! Although the early signs are not good, the jury still has to be out on Karius. It’s worth bearing in mind the circumstances he finds himself in at a new club in a new country. He’s also quite frail looking for a keeper. Needs bulking up in my opinion.
so is it group confidence, self confidence or ability? You seem to cover all the bases there.
It’s not a black and white situation. All are contributory factors. And more importantly it’s only an opinion.
Thanks for the article Adam and for pointing out the Goal keeping coach as a source of the problem.
Firstly I don’t think fans are responsible for who gets scouted, bought, trained, select tactics, and picked to play in any given match.
Look at that process and you may see weak links where miscommunication, politics, egos, etc can affect decisions off the field and some times become a reflection on the field.
Maybe think of Adam Bogdan if you wish to insert this player in the process above.
And the output of this across seasons and games elicits given responses from fans (and the media who may or may not have some agenda or bias). Should they be responsible for support instead of the negativity? I think it’s easy to quote Shankly here, but in truth it’s compounded with a lack of trophies or consistent positive results at the very least.
Picking on the mistakes of goalkeepers like De Gea and Courtous who upped their games for whatever unexplained reasons in their second season to go on to win the EPL titles and then some, I don’t think excuses the mistakes our keepers make. Whether those other keepers make them doesn’t change the fact that ours continue to do so at crucial stages of games.
I think also that Klopp inherited Migs, so he tried giving him a chance in a system that may not favor Migs abilities or even what he thinks is how to play. Karius is probably who Klopp wants as his first choice but the rotation of players is probably hurting these players potential and painting them in different light. Karius might also have a thought or two as to how he wants to contribute.
But rotation of players in a big match with a supposedly poor opposition or not, a CL game for example, is just as important to the opposition to win against a big club like LFC. They take it seriously as well. A lot of pressure there too for players.
The issues above stem from what I heard John Barnes point out, that managers tell their players what to do and how to do it, wanting them to always play a certain way. So the team follow it to the letter. So what if the player has a mind of his own and can change the game to help the team? So is Klopp also playing FIFA XX on his Xbox before coming into work?
For the record, I do not believe it was all Benitez in Istanbul after half time.
Back to the keepers, they are both foreign players and as much as globalization has broken some barriers, I think communication breakdown, cultural differences, thought processes, etc can have an effect on and off the field.
I did not want to see rotation as I think Migs has improved and only a consistent run of games both in the league and on the big stage like CL would allow him to prove his worth for the trust and patience that Jurgen has allowed him, and dare I say the fans who have done so as well.
“Picking on the mistakes of goalkeepers like De Gea and Courtous who upped their games for whatever unexplained reasons in their second season to go on to win the EPL titles and then some, I don’t think excuses the mistakes our keepers make.”
This is valid for Karius and Ward in their development. Its valid for Mignolet too in terms of something I posted on here earlier…
“It’s funny how the supposed top keepers get let off mistakes as they make enough good shot stops. Yet that’s exactly the stick mignolet, and no doubt karius in time, get beaten with”
Now this isn’t validating our choice of GK (frankly its a really boring subject), but what it does do is highlight the narrative around our GKs. You spin that comment round to fit the agenda.
All Mignolet does is make good stops but the errors cost us.
Those other keepers make errors but its ok as they make good stops.
That may well be true, in terms of how things are spun by our fans or media, but the fact remains that both these top keepers came in and matched up to the high pressure environment at clubs that includes the likes of impatient fans who aren’t exactly class acts themselves in the stadium, that adds to this pressure.
Both Mignolet and Karius are not horrible keepers, but face similar high pressured environments as the above two foreign goalkeepers, and have yet to prove themselves, with Migs going on 4 years now.
For me irrespective of who is picked and why, the issues stem from the process I mentioned in my comment. These guys are simply getting the stick as you say maybe because they aren’t a great fit to begin with, and with the lack of trophies these past few years, the almost-won season, and the heavy history of the club around the fans’ necks, somebody’s going to get it.
Sadly, in this case, our fans take it out on the two goal keepers in whatever way they make it out to be.
A nice counter balance to the previous piece on the keepers. I agree with Amy, the supporters attending games need to do just that, support and encourage the players. For example, the collective panic that sets in at Anfield while a game is even around the 70 min mark is palpable and must get to the players. That said, I think constructive criticism off pitch can force players to up their level like we’ve seen with Hendo’s determination the past few games. I also agree with Sash comment about it’s what out keepers are doing for us (or not) that is important; the fact is they are not dominant enough although I feel Karius is the keeper we should nail the mast to and persevere with. He seems the mentally stronger one and even if he makes a mistake he carries on unfazed whereas Mignolet just seems to get worse as the game progresses as we saw against Leicester.
There have to be question marks against Achterburg for me. Reina was never the same once he came in and we have had a series of underperforming keepers under his watch. Why did it take so long for Mignolet to start showing dominance in the air, why was his distribution so poor. It’s only in the last few months of last season that we started to see improvements in Mignolet’s game. Why did it take so long and what exactly was Achterburg doing with the keepers before. Did it really need Klopp to be there for almost 2 seasons before our keeper started to perform the basics well?
No doubt this debate will ensue but it’s an interesting discussion.