Mignolet joined Liverpool for a fee of 10 million pounds from Sunderland to replace Pepe Reina.
Mignolet at the moment is 26 years old. 26 years for a Goalie is young. He is considered by many Sunderland fans as the factor of Sunderland surviving relegation last year. Though he is loved by most of the Sunderland fans, he is not loved by a great number of Liverpool fans.
The reasons fans put down for their hate towards Mignolet are:
- His distribution is poor.
- He makes too many mistakes.
- He is not attacking during set pieces.
- He does not control over the defence.
- He does not catch the ball.
As a goalkeeper and a Liverpool fan, I myself take the responsibility of clearing misconceptions about him.
Let me clear things out one by one
- About his distribution- Yes his distribution is not good enough as Reina, but that does not mean his distribution is poor. The player who receives the ball from the Goalkeeper also has a major role. Yes Suarez and Sturridge are great players, but Mignolet knows that it will be tough for Suarez and Sturridge to head pass the ball to other players. All they can do is control the ball, but there is only a 50% chance of getting possession. So he goes for the short balls to Agger or Skrtel. He usually gives the ball to attacking wing backs (Enrique and Johnson), and he was left out of option when both the players were injured, it is not possible to pass to Flanagan, because he is more of defensive kind. I have seen him go for long balls when Lucas was on the pitch. And also I have seen him go for long balls in important matches like against Man City, Man united, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham. According to me passing the balls to the wing backs is the best thing to do for a Goalkeeper, because it does not have the risk of losing possession. We can see Mignolet doing that when Johnson and Enrique is back in full fitness.
- About his mistakes- If we judge him on his mistakes, then we will have to re judge Skrtel, Sturridge, Henderson and Sterling again, because mistakes are common parts of Football. If a goalie does not make mistakes, then he is never going to become a great goalie. I saw one of the best goalies of all time, Buffon make a crucial mistake last week. Still he is very much loved by Juventus and Italy fans, but that’s not the case here. Mignolet is new and not all of them have started loving him. Mistakes happen and the best thing we can do about it is just forget it.
- About his silence during set pieces- It’s true he was silent during set pieces, but now in the last few weeks, I have seen him do that too. His confidence has increased, so he is not having any problem to come out of his line, but during the first half due to his mistakes his confidence was reduced. And I hope he will continue to come out of his line during set pieces. Still coming out of his line for every set piece is complete risk in the goal post.
- Just shouting at the defence does not make the teams defence better, the goalkeeper must know his defenders well. With the fact that, our back four has been changing since the start of the season due to injury problems we can’t expect him to shout at his defence. And for a young and new Goalie it may take at least one season to learn about his back four.
- About his catching- Making a Goalkeeper catch the ball is making the Goalkeeper pressurized. Some people have a misconception that a Goalie’s duty is to catch the ball than not letting balls get inside his goal. No, that’s not the thing, catching the ball and saving the ball are two methods in goalkeeping. Both methods are right. Example- Casillas, he catches ball, but in any case if he drops the ball, his confidence may fall down and he will be pressurized very much but this is a safe method if you have a great gripped gloves. Buffon, he opts for saving the ball, than catching the ball. There is a lot of risk in this but; by doing this you are not under pressure, and also it helps you for making a quick save. In case if you save a ball and someone goes for a rebound shot, it is easy for you to save that shot too. And also when you have a great back four, the no risk in following this method. Mignolet opted to follow the method opted by Buffon.
I hope that I have touched all the points that make people think that Mignolet is not a good goalkeeper.
Mignolet has the same importance as Suarez and Sturridge and so he requires equal support from the fans. Not only Mignolet, all the players, let it be Aspas, Cissokho, Allen etc.
I am a diehard fan of Mignolet and also he is my idol, but my honest rating for him will be 7.5/10. But I also assure you that he will only get better and also he is only 26.