Simon Mignolet is an extremely frustrating individual, and even more so for Liverpool fans.
He has undoubted potential – after all, he wouldn’t be number one at one of England’s biggest clubs if he didn’t. Penalties gave him the biggest chance of redemption in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final but unlike his fellow under-pressure counterpart Willy Caballero, Mignolet couldn’t quite get there – and that’s been the story of his Liverpool career so far.
Whilst Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero all despatched their penalties, Manchester City had an unlikely Argentinian hero between the sticks who some even thought didn’t deserve to be there. But he justified his manager’s dubious decision and showed his manager that he does have the quality to make a push for the first team.
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Mignolet was sort of selected just because he always is. His competition is Adam Bogdan and youngster Danny Ward – hardly the sort of competition some of Europe’s other top keepers face. And that could be part of the problem – the need for active, healthy competition is always really important and Mignolet gets away with his errors because there isn’t someone waiting in the shadows who we know is better.
He did, however, make some extremely strong saves at Wembley. It just so happens that when goalkeepers make mistakes, they don’t get another chance at redemption in that exact moment. Outfield players have the chance to redeem themselves, and have another try but goalkeepers don’t have that luxury. Mignolet should have done better with the strike that beat him at the near post, but he did somewhat make up for it with a string of other saves to keep his team in it until extra time.
Klopp has always been very forward in his support for the Belgian international but his whole Liverpool career seemed to be summed up by the inconsistent afternoon at Wembley. He was smart and ready at some points whilst weak and inattentive when Fernandinho’s low, angled drive flew through his legs to open the scoring.
And his inconsistency was echoed when there was a collective groan around the Liverpool fans when they saw the reply. At 6ft 4in, Mignolet isn’t small and the effort should have been saved. But its something they have become accustomed to during the Belgian’s stint at the club.
But Mignolet wasn’t the only person to blame for the defeat – Sturridge and co. weren’t on form at all and City were unfortunate to not score more on the day.
But the result makes one thing clear to some Reds fans – that the need for competition in the goalkeeping department needs to be stepped up. Mignolet saunters into the team week after week, which whilst great for him, offers no great competition to his position. Would he perform better and train harder with another top pro vying for his position alongside him?
Off course and this is perhaps what Liverpool need to do to bring out the best of Mignolet unless they want another season of inconsistency and disappointment.