Loris Karius might feel – and with some small justification – that his football career hangs by a thread.
The massively high-profile nature of his dressing down in Kiev coupled with the fact that he cost his entire team a shot at immortality will bring with it mental scars.
Where does he go from here? He can rationalise that his team might still have lost, but the two-goal margin is hard to ignore: without his mistakes that game could have ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. Or will he have a choice over what happens next. Mentally, will he ever be the same again when he steps over the white line? Will Liverpool want to keep him? And even the notion of selling him is built upon the idea that there is a club who actually want to buy him.
There had been calls for Jurgen Klopp to sign a new keeper in January, but since Karius took hold of the number one spot those cries died down and he was in the process of showing the world that he was a competent goalkeeper. But now those dissenting voices are back with a thousand vengeances.
At the moment, it feels as though it’s hard to overstate the importance of this simply because the coverage has been so wall-to-wall, on social media and beyond. It’s a heartbreaking tale on a human level and an extraordinary one on a footballing level. Though in the end, all that happened is that he made a few mistakes. The mental toughness needed to get over what happened isn’t available to every human being, but if Karius has it you’d imagine he’ll be back.
That’s really what Liverpool have to judge now: whether their keeper has the mental fortitude to come back from the depths, and whether he had the talent to be the club’s long-term number one in the first place. If he has both of those things, he’s worth persevering with.
Or at least, you’d imagine that’s what Jurgen Klopp will think.
The noises coming out of Anfield haven’t been good for Karius. Unsurprisingly, new goalkeepers have been linked. And yet, with Klopp, you just never know.
New players would have been linked after the Europa League final two years ago when Alberto Moreno made high-profile errors which helped Sevilla regain their crown in Switzerland. More recently, Dejan Lovren has made blunders in red and cost his side goals only to find himself in the starting line-up for a Champions League final.
Both of those men were given another chance. Liverpool could still be doing with a replacement for Lovren, but the arrival of Andy Robertson in the starting XI has relegated Moreno to second-choice. And whilst most Liverpool fans wouldn’t mourn his departure on a footballing level, few are calling for his head even as a replacement. You get the feeling Lovren could go the same way, though the Croatian’s performance in Kiev was, on the whole, quite impressive.
Klopp appears to be a coach who likes a rehabilitation. He’s a player’s manager – a motivator who knows which buttons to push to get the best out of his men. Karius, if he is to be given a second chance, couldn’t ask for a better manager than his compatriot who has already shown that some of his error-prone players can be fashioned into functional players who can at least play their part in a squad that can make it all the way to a Champions League final.
This feels different somehow. The scale of the errors, the enormity of his footballing wrongdoing and the worldwide stage on which he did it perhaps means that Karius’s own head might be the main reason he can’t be salvaged. But if there’s any manager in world football you’d want helping him, it’s surely Jurgen Klopp.