Loris Karius’ arrival at Liverpool was supposed to shunt Simon Mignolet onto the bench.
But when the £4.7 million signing from Mainz broke his hand in Liverpool’s pre-season friendly against Chelsea last week, Jurgen Klopp had no choice but to make Mignolet a part of his plans once again.
Karius is facing eight to 10 weeks on the sidelines and his absence was compounded by the Belgian’s showing in Tuesday morning’s 2-1 defeat to AS Roma.
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The problem for Mignolet is that his errors outnumber his moments of excellence, and he produced a mistake that allowed the Italian club to take a 2-1 lead.
He saved Edin Dzeko’s point-blank header - showcasing some nice reactions - but the ball was pushed upwards as opposed to away from goal. Then, instead of attacking the ball, Mignolet dithered on his goal line, allowing Mohamed Salah to tuck the ball in from a couple of yards out.
Manninger > Mignolet
Mignolet spoke of his need to step up in Karius’ absence before the friendly. Instead, he did quite the opposite.
The fact that some Liverpool fans are calling for Alex Manninger, a 39-year-old who was initially training with the club before signing a short-term contract, to start in their first league game of the season proves the level of animosity towards Mignolet.
Here’s the rest of the reaction to the former Sunderland man’s showing.
Karius underwent surgery this past weekend to repair a hand that was broken in a collision with Dejan Lovren.
His misfortune will give Mignolet perhaps his last opportunity to impress Klopp before the German begins to wonder whether signing another goalkeeper or accelerating the development of 18-year-old Shamal George is required.
Mignolet believes Karius’ injury “doesn’t change anything”, but it certainly does. Liverpool’s defence just became a whole lot more susceptible, for a start.
“I just need to stay calm,” Mignolet told the Liverpool Echo, per the Mirror. “I need to look at myself and my own performances in the games and in training. I have to keep my head down and keep working hard.
“I don’t want to speak too much about it because I want to do my talking on the pitch. It’s down to me to put in performances and play the best I can.
“It might be that Loris is injured now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll take my foot off the gas. It doesn’t change anything.”
A mistake-free showing from Mignolet in Karius’ relief could cause a head-to-head competition that brings out the best in the pair.
But even Klopp knows that’s a long shot.