All I can say about Simon Mignolet is he’s definitely in my Top 20 of Premier League goalkeepers. And trust me, he doesn’t feature very high on it.
When they first bought him, I was surprised. When you think of the great Liverpool goalkeepers Tommy Lawrence, Ray Clemence, Bruce Grobbelaar, Pepe Reina – he never struck me as a player capable of hitting those standards. His shot-stopping his good, his distribution is decent, but he ain’t the best on crosses, his decision-making is poor and he’s not the bravest. He can’t cope physically. Skrtel and Lovren have come in for stick, but the lack of understanding they have with the keeper hasn’t helped. You just don’t get the feeling of confidence coming from him.
He’s only 26, but from what I’ve seen, he’s just never going to be a Liverpool standard goalie. If you plan on winning leagues and trophies, you need a keeper who’ll pull games out of the fire for you. I don’t see that in him. I don’t recall too many games when you go ‘flipping heck – if it wasn’t for him that would have been four or five nil’.
On the contrary, in the big games away to City and Chelsea last season, he let a couple in that he should have kept out. He doesn’t have the consistency you need from a top class goalie and without wanting to sound disrespectful, he’ll get away with a lot more at Sunderland than he will at Liverpool.
KEEPER IT IN PERSPECTIVE
The criticism of goalies can be excessive, but on the other hand, some of the praise they get is over the top. It seems to be a feature of the Sky Sports era – nothing is average or run of the mill. It’s always one extreme or the other. Pundits go overboard on some of the mistakes that are made, but they also heap too much praise on regulation saves that every keeper should make. Commentators are calling something a great save, but when you get another look at it, you think to yourself ‘I’d be really disappointed if that went in’. And some of the goals that go in, but aren’t called mistake – I look at the goalie and think ‘have a word with yourself – that should never have gone in’.
Our expectations of goalkeepers have dropped so much. The standard of goalkeeping is poor, particularly in the Premier League. Hugo Lloris is world class, but after that, I’m not convinced. David De Gea has come on a tonne and could enter that world class bracket in time and Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea looks like the real deal, but being world class comes from concentration and long term consistency.
That’s why I don’t have Joe Hart as one of the world’s best. He misses a fair few he should keep out.
Tim Howard has been great for us. He gets a bit of stick for mistakes he makes, but his strength is his consistency. When I look around the Premier League, I don’t look at too many other keepers and think they’d be an improvement on Tim.
Too many keepers in the Premier League see the striker bearing down on them and don’t back themselves to stop him. That’s not the attitude. You could see Peter Schmeichel closing down a striker expecting to keep it out. He didn’t always manage it, but he had that expectation of himself every time. You need to think you can dominate the striker and make him do what you want. Now most goalkeepers just don’t seem to believe they can make the save and just roll over and let the striker stick it in the net.
BALLS TO THAT
The excuse that gets me most is ‘the ball moved’. Of course it moved – that’s what balls do. It’s always been the case. Now they’re blaming the new balls they release every season. In my day, there wasn’t just one ball, there were loads. One week you’d be using an Adidas ball, the next it might be Mitre, then an Uhlsport – you just did your research, in the week before a game trained with the ball you knew they were using on matchday and got to understand the little movements and quirks of each one.
Even if he deserves a certain amount of criticism, he’s nowhere near Liverpool’s biggest problem this season.
Mario Balotelli is 80 to 90% of the problem. He was never going to replace one of the world’s best players, but even allowing for that, he’s not doing enough. He’s not working hard enough and there’s no excuse for that. Even when Suarez wasn’t scoring goals, he would run his bollocks off for the team. Balotelli does most of his running down the tunnel.
There’s some days when I’d say a lollipop man covers more ground than him.
LUK TO ETO’O
Balotelli is putting a lot of pressure on his team-mates and to a much lesser extent, I see Romelu Lukaku doing it for Everton. He’s struggled with holding the ball up at times and it’s cost us three goals this season. That’s where the similarity ends because in fairness to Lukaku, he works hard to get into position and he contributes even if he isn’t scoring. He could do worse than look at Eto’o. Eto’o glides over the ground, uses his head, gets into really good positions and scores goals. He was superb against Burnley, but it was against a team who are almost certainly going down.
I expect us to keep it going against Swansea. They started well, but you can see from Gary Monk’s comments that he’s feeling the pressure a bit. You could see it creeping in with Roberto Martinez a bit when we were going through a bad run. People started questioning the philosophy and wondering if he should become more defensive, but hopefully a run of good results will nip that in the bud.
We had 11 years of defensive football and it won us fuck all. Let’s not turn back the clock.
It’ll be an entertaining game of football. Swansea have the same philosophy as us and look who started all that off? They were going nowhere fast and a few years later they’re in the Premier League, won a League Cup and are giving their fans some fantastic moments. I can see us winning this 2-1 and Lukaku grabbing a goal. Even if we don’t win it, don’t lose the faith in what Roberto is doing.
Everton to win 2-1 @ 7/1
Romelu Lukaku to score anytime @ evens
Wincast: Lukaku to score and Everton to win @ 9/5