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Everything's the Worst: The Unreliable

An old friend fiendishly reared its unwanted head on Saturday.

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Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.

- Bill Russell

This is a wonderful idea, one that David de Gea embodies. Once a goalkeeper has a tendency to pluck balls out of the air he shouldn't or save shots that he seemingly has no right to, an aura begins to build around him. Opposition players begin to fall into this trap, be it knowingly or unwittingly. A narrative builds, one where commentators, managers, players, experts, and fans begin to subscribe to. Such a narrative is built on fact but starts to veer into hyperbole and bombast.

The consequences of this process are wondrous for any team that possesses such a titan in what is widely believed to be the loneliest position on the football pitch -- the home of eccentrics and the misunderstood. Those who are fortunate to benefit from such goalkeeping competence can reputedly expect a significant number of extra points per season, or so some would think. It's an interesting concept, but underlines what an important position a goalkeeper has on the football field. There are often a number of players in other parts of the team who can aid or hinder a club's ambitions. There is, however, only one goalkeeper to attract the entire attention of the masses.

Simon Mignolet has been a first-choice goalkeeper for ten years in England and Belgium, working his way up the professional ladder to bigger clubs and new challenges. This seasoned and affable professional might have reached his peak, a fact that shouldn't be cause for any burning regrets. Three seasons as Liverpool's undisputed pick in goal has provided challenges, experiences, opportuniites, and moments that any goalkeeper will be able to utilise in the future. The problem is the frequency of games like Newcastle where his mistakes and hesitant moments when called upon encourage the opposition, giving them belief that something could happen against all odds. Mignolet is not alone when Liverpool's defensive problems arise defensively but is usually never far away

Whether one pores through statistics or uses their eyes, an unfortunate and unedifying truth about Simon Mignolet becomes clear: he should be Liverpool's David Ospina. That's not to disparage the Colombian goalkeeper nor to dismiss the talents of Mignolet. The Belgian number two can be a wonderful shot stopper, capable of keeping Liverpool in games. However, what may be good for others just might not be good enough for you. Petr Čech is that man, while David Ospina is not. Filling in for ten games or so in addition to deputising in a cup competition is acceptable, but seeking much more will inevitably prolong disappointment and create a feeling among the opposition that a weakness can be exploited. Such a flaw might not be on display today, but the idea isn't to make the opposition believe that your goalkeeper might fumble a shot.

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