When Simon Mignolet joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2013, he was ahead of Thibaut Courtois in the Belgian team’s pecking-order.
Fast forward to 2014 and Mignolet is now struggling to get into Liverpool’s first team. The manager showed a complete lack of faith in the 26-year-old by dropping him for Liverpool’s trip to Manchester United, a game they lost 3-0 in his absence.
Fellow Premier League goalkeeper Tim Howard has recently expressed his concern at Rodgers’ handling of the Mignolet situation, ‘I think it’s a hard road back when you get taken out of the team. Sometimes there is no way back’.
Clearly, Howard fears for the Liverpool goalkeeper’s future at Anfield. The American himself was doubted at Manchester United before moving to Everton and proving himself as a top-class goalkeeper. A similar situation may force Simon Mignolet to depart Anfield, especially with the January transfer window fast approaching. Although some may feel that Mignolet has been harshly treated by Rodgers, the Belgian has struggled to produce consistently this season. He has also been prone to making costly mistakes, losing the confidence of his back four and ultimately, the manager.
The fact that Rodgers dropped Mignolet for the Old Trafford game suggests that the Northern-Irishman has no confidence in his goalkeeper at the moment. The decision did come with criticism however, as many felt that the United game was not the ideal fixture to juggle your goalkeepers about. Sure enough, Brad Jones came in and produced a far from convincing performance; the Australian’s appearance in the League Cup victory against Bournemouth in midweek was also disappointing. Rodgers may be trying a similar managerial tactic to the one Manuel Pellegrini tried on Joe Hart, replacing him with Costel Pantilimon last season. This tactic did work for Pellegrini but considering Rodger’s rather gloomy situation at Liverpool this campaign, it is a bold move that is at risk of not paying off.
David de Gea has resembled the importance of having a good goalkeeper time and time again this season. His Manchester United career didn’t get off to the best of starts but after some bulking at the gym, he now looks like a dominant Premier League goalkeeper who is performing at the highest level week in, week out. Whether a similar approach will be taken by Liverpool towards Simon Mignolet is a different story. However, Liverpool need to act fast. Brad Jones is not a regular Premier League goalkeeper and his recent performances have shown that this is clearly the case. Liverpool need an experienced, level head between the sticks in order to stop the goals from flooding in this season. It poses more of a problem than the striking issues as points can still be collected if you have a strong defence and a slightly weak attack. The prospect of Liverpool’s defence carrying on in a similar fashion for the rest of the season will have Jamie Carragher waking up in cold sweats. Therefore, a new goalkeeper needs to be bought in January. Whether that’s to provide competition for Mignolet or to outright replace him is a different story but Liverpool need to make a decision fast before they completely lose touch with the Premier League’s top six.