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31st Dec 2016

Simon Mignolet hits back at Jamie Carragher’s criticism over Jon Walters’ goal

But does he have a point?

Mikey Stafford

Mother of God, Simon, what are you doing?

The last time a Liverpool goalkeeper deigned to hit back at the sensitive Sky Sports pundits in their ivory tower he found himself in the centre of a media storm that ended with him having to park his handsome arse on the bench.

Granted, Loris Karius’s comments about Gary Neville were as innocuous as they were harmless, but the former Valencia manager took offence.

Now Karius’s replacement in the Liverpool goal, Simon Mignolet, has used an interview with The Times to respond to Jamie Carragher’s critique of his performance against Stoke – which saw the Belgian concede a near-post header to Jonathan Walters.

Carragher, never one to spare a goalkeeper the rod when it comes to Liverpool keepers, suggested the club should sign Joe Hart.

“Liverpool have got a goalkeeping problem,” Carragher said. “It’s not just one individual.

“The reason Karius was brought in was because Jürgen Klopp didn’t think that Simon Mignolet was good enough. 

“When a Liverpool goalkeeper gets asked to make a save that he should make, a lot of the time they are going in.”

Mignolet acknowledges that at this stage of the season, every goal conceded by Liverpool, the focus is immediately on the goalkeeper. However the Belgian insists Carragher “under-analysed” the build-up to Walters’ opener.

The Belgian has come armed with real tactical analysis, which is great. No mention of managerial careers of pundits, or Twitter jibes, just an honest assessment of a situation from a real life footballer.

Once Walters was named up front with Peter Crouch, Mignolet and goalkeeping coach John Achterberg decided that his own position had to depend on where Crouch was positioned.

Mignolet said this explained why he was caught out at his front post by Walters.

“My position is affected by Crouch’s position. My position is not in the middle of the goal, and definitely not at the first post space of the goal, but at the second post space, because that is where Crouch is.”

As Erik Pieters wins possession on the left you can see that Mignolet is in a neutral starting position – ready to move to either the front or back post.

As Pieters prepares to cross, Mignolet points at Crouch, who is one-on-one with Ragnar Klavan. The goalkeeper has clearly identified the 6’7″ striker as the main threat. He begins to move towards left hand side of the goal.

However, once Pieters puts his cross towards Walters at the front post, Mignolet has to scramble.

The Republic of Ireland workhorse steals a march on the flat-footed Dejan Lovren and aims a powerful header to Mignolet’s unguarded front post.

The goalkeeper manages to get a hand to the header but can’t keep it out. He told The Times he believes getting so closer to stopping the shot made it look worse, rather than better.

“When I look back now to Stoke, if I didn’t manage to get a hand on it, it would have put a lot less emphasis on me. If I had stayed in the middle, didn’t dive for the ball and make like a big fuss, no one would have said anything.”

But, when it comes to Carragher, Mignolet doesn’t think it really matters what he does – the Sky Sports pundit has it in for him.

“Carra has been a critic of mine. He wants goalkeepers to make big saves, but against Stoke if I don’t make the save against Joe Allen, then the the games becomes much more difficult,” said Mignolet, who does not think Carragher’s old club Liverpool are in a position to employ a poor goalkeeper.

“If you are fighting at the top in the Premier League then you cannot do that with a dodgy goalkeeper. It is not possible.”