Brendan Rodgers has maintained an odd relationship with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet this season. Rather than backing Mignolet as he suffered through a period of bad form earlier in the campaign, Rodgers decided to bench him in favor of Brad Jones. He then gave Mignolet his starting job back, and Mignolet has rewarded the move with a string of solid displays highlighted by an excellent performance in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
Rodgers claimed that his decision to bench Mignolet led to the goalkeeper's improved play. "I think Simon has shown the benefits of having a little bit of time out," Rodgers said. "I think he looks like a different goalkeeper. It's difficult because when you're playing all the time and you're preparing, sometimes you won't get that chance to reflect on your performance."
The manager also took time to reflect on the inherently dramatic nature of benching his goalkeeper in the middle of a season. However, he didn't offer any explanation to how the media attention given to the situation affected Mignolet. "Of course, nowadays, if you take a player out, whether it's through rest or through trying to look after the player and allowing him to develop, [people will say] he's been ‘dropped'. And that's not always the case," he said.
"Simon's spell out of the team was to just take a step back, to analyse his performance, to see areas in which he could improve and clear his mind, knowing that he was going to get the opportunity to go again."
Rodgers heaped praise on Mignolet for his recent play and discussed the specific components of his improvement. "When he's come back into the team, he's been very clear and shown why we brought him here. He's a wonderful shot-stopper. He's starting to be more aggressive now with crosses," he said. "He's probably just thinking less, and doing what he does naturally, which is be a top-class goalkeeper. He's really starting to show the form as to why we brought him here and I'm delighted for him because he works really hard at his game."