When Simon Mignolet first made his switch from Sunderland to Anfield in the summer of 2013, many Liverpool fans were already perplexed with the Belgian keeper and his future role at Liverpool Football Club.
Mignolet may have arrived off the back of an impressive season with the Black Cats, where his individual performances often saved Sunderland from near turmoil and relegation to the Championship, but the ousting of fan-favourite Pepe Reina at Anfield had been something very few Liverpool fans were expecting, or wanting.
Since then, despite the heroics of Brendan Rodgers’ side last season, the £9million keeper has simply failed to establish himself with the Reds, and has often been labelled the ‘fall-guy’ for many of Liverpool’s shortcomings this season. With Brad Jones replacing Mignolet on several occasions this campaign, a place on the bench has often been the only place of refuge for Anfield’s struggling keeper.
In light of such unfortunate developments for the 26-year-old between the sticks, can Simon Mignolet ever resurrect his career at Anfield, or are his Liverpool days quickly coming to unceremonious end?
In true critique style, several within the footballing community have completely destroyed the former Sunderland man for his side’s errors in 2014/15. Liverpool have looked a mere shadow of the team that rushed, rallied and frankly scared the opposition into bowing down to them last campaign, but as Brendan Rodgers no longer has a certain Luis Suarez at his command, things were always going to be different for his side this season. Therefore, the most important factor to consider when analysing the Simon Mignolet’s time with the Reds is the fact that he is in no way exclusively to blame for his side’s current problems.
If the Liverpool front men had found their feet in-front of goal this season, the spot-light would have never been so tightly focussed on their under-pressure keeper, leaving the Belgian to operate in much more welcoming circumstances. The likes of Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, and of course the ever-talked-about Mario Balotelli, have simply failed to step up this campaign, but it’s Mignolet who unfairly takes the lion’s share of the blame.
The Liverpool keeper also isn’t helped by those playing directly in front of him. Dejan Loven, who cost the Reds in the region of £20million this summer, just hasn’t been the player Liverpool fans were expecting. Mamadou Sakho, who has simply failed to show any of the qualities that saw him promoted to the French national team, has also been a disappointment, and whilst he may add some much needed tenacity to Liverpool’s back four, Martin Skrtel isn’t exactly the most solid defender in world football at the moment either.
Brendan Rodgers’ problems this season are therefore rooted in a deeper issue at Anfield. Whilst nearly half of the Premier League campaign remains undecided and could in-fact prove to be a prosperous time for the Reds, Liverpool’s summer recruitment has simply let them down in 2014/15. The Luis Suarez money just hasn’t been efficiently spent, and despite the many millions Rodgers threw about in the run up to the league campaign, his side are undoubtedly looking far worse than they did last season.
Although such developments will certainly have affected the Reds on the pitch, the likes of Simon Mignolet have no blame in what goes on behind the scenes.
With all that said and done, Mignolet himself must be disappointed with his own form this season. He may have the collective failure of the team and external influences to blame for his side’s current woes, but as several of his performances in 2014/15 have harshly outlined, the Belgian keeper simply hasn’t been good enough for Brendan Rodgers in the past few months.
Mignolet’s concentration at the back, questionable distribution and stark vulnerability from catching crosses have done him no favours within the footballing community, and with the January transfer window now upon us, Liverpool may have to get the cheque-book out once more if his poor form continues.
Ultimately then, whilst Liverpool’s no. 22 hasn’t exactly been worthy of claiming that no. 1 shirt at Anfield this season, he is not solely to blame for his side’s problems on the pitch. As is often the case with the cruel nature of Premier League football however, Simon Mignolet’s ‘scape-goat’ status seems to be sticking right now, and whilst nothing is certain in the English game, it seems like the Belgian’s time at Anfield will sadly be over sooner rather than later.