Football

Simon Mignolet blame isn't fair when the problems are in midfield

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In recent years, Liverpool have struggled to maintain a good defensive record. The club fell short of claiming their first Premier League title in the 2013/14 season after conceding 50 goals, just three fewer than Hull City, who narrowly missed relegation and very little has improved since.

Many fans have been quick to place blame on keeper Simon Mignolet, but is the Belgian shot stopper the real problem?

The club has invested around £300 million on players in the past four years, with £79 million of that spent on the defence.

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Brendan Rodgers, when in charge, put a huge emphasis on improving Liverpool’s defensive capabilities, especially after a significant slump in form last season. Mignolet faced the brunt of the criticism from fans and pundits alike and, as a result, suffered a huge dip in form and confidence.

Rodgers' style of play was the cause of this Mignolet ‘witch hunt’. The Northern Irishman’s philosophy to implement possession football in all areas of the pitch simply didn’t suit the Belgian.

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At present, there is a huge emphasis on the need for goalkeepers to be just as good with their feet as they are with their hands, but their primary concern should be keeping the ball out of their net.

Liverpool fans were graced with the top class distribution of Pepe Reina for nine years week-in-week-out, and there was an expectancy for Mignolet to replicate the Spaniard. What people fail to realise is the Belgian international is nothing more than your olden-day shot-stopper.

Under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, there has been a marked improvement in Mignolet's performances. The 27-year-old has never lacked the ability to prevent goals, but he has failed to establish himself as a commanding figure within the box, which he is now beginning to demonstrate.

The real cause of Liverpool’s defensive woes lies in midfield. Apart from Lucas Leiva, the club have no other out-and-out defensive midfielders.

In the 2013/14 season, when Liverpool finished second to Manchester City, Rodgers opted to place an ageing Steven Gerrard in front of the back four.

Gerrard - whose mindset had always been to attack - was asked to adapt to a role he knew little about, a position young Emre Can has been pushed towards under Klopp.

Action needs to be taken sooner than later by the new Anfield boss if his side has any chance of claiming a spot in the top four.

Klopp has the ability to draw big name players, something Rodgers was never able to do. The German now needs to use that pulling power and lure a quality defensive midfielder to Merseyside.

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Topics:
Premier League
Liverpool
Simon Mignolet
Football

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