Simon Mignolet Praised as "All-Rounder"

Stu Forster

Life at Liverpool has been good to Simon Mignolet in the early-going, and goalkeeping coach John Achterberg hailed the Belgian's work ethic and overall qualities ahead of the squad's trip to Swansea.

There didn't seem to be much of a transition period when Simon Mignolet joined Liverpool--he signed, Brendan Rodgers assured us that he was competition for Pepe Reina, Pepe Reina left for Napoli, and Simon Mignolet was Liverpool uncontested number one. That was about that, and while Reina's farewell letter elicited a few concerns, Mignolet's arrival didn't leave a whole lot of room for uncertainty.

Based on the early evidence the moves appear justified, as Mignolet's cemented his status with two crucial saves; first came the penalty save and subsequent block on Cameron Jerome's follow-up effort in the opening day win over Stoke, and the next weekend he denied Christian Benteke at full stretch to again give Liverpool's defense a late boost in the victory at Villa Park. His display against Manchester United was confident and composed as well, and the more we see of him, the more it looks as though this was the switch Liverpool had to make.

Goalkeeping coach John Achterberg certainly sounds impressed, as he's hailed the Belgian's quality after three clean sheets had Liverpool top of the league through their first three matches:

"Simon is an all-rounder really - he hasn't many weak points to be honest. He can play with his feet, his positioning is good, he comes for crosses and I think probably his best is shot-stopping. He has good power and speed to get to the ball.

"We talk about small tactical things in terms of what players do in the box and what he can do to help himself to improve; some small positional things which make him even harder to be beaten. But he has been doing well and he is really focused."

Maybe the biggest compliment Mignolet can be paid--at least given the emotional space that Reina occupied--is that he hasn't really given us a reason to miss the much-loved Spaniard as fall approaches. The general decline of Reina's form likely has something to do with it as well, but like nearly all of the signings Liverpool have made in the 2013 calendar year, Mignolet has barely put a foot wrong both on and off the pitch.

As we've been reminded so often over the past few weeks, it's early days still, and both Liverpool and Simon Mignolet are going to have to prove their worth across a full season before the praise comes without hesitation. For now, though, it's nice to see Mignolet settle in so quickly, and long may his early form continue in goal for Liverpool.

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