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Klopp Backs Karius to Continue to Grow as Liverpool’s Number One

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Despite a few nervy moments, Jürgen Klopp is happy with Loris Karius’ first games as Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Some of Liverpool’s more reactionary fans, having seen a small handful of errors on the ball from new goalkeeper Loris Karius—a few moments of nerves or indecisiveness—have perhaps predictably begun to call for a return for former number one Simon Mignolet.

Realistically, that isn’t an option. Barring a complete implosion by Karius, he is the goalkeeper of the future. Mignolet, on the other hand, had a year to prove himself to Jürgen Klopp and failed to do so. If the two options are roughly equal in the present, then, it will be the future that plays.

Moreover, the man making the decisions doesn’t seem quite so worried about Karius’ performances between the sticks as those more reactionary fans, as he called the 23-year-old’s first three games at the club “a very good start” today at his pre-West Bromwitch Albion press conference.

“We watched him for a long time,” noted the manager when asked for his read on Karius’ start to life as Liverpool’s new number one. “Especially in the last two years in the Bundesliga, he was outstanding. But he is still a young boy, for a goalkeeper especially.

“He has experience but this is, of course, something else here in the Premier League—a different kind of play in general and a style of play in our specific case. Of course he has to improve and can improve, but with the start I feel quite comfortable and everything is good.”

When pressed in particular on the fact that Karius has seemed to have a few nervy moments on the ball so far, Klopp shrugged and admitted that he hadn’t been perfect—but that when you ask a goalkeeper to play the ball, the occasional mistake is inevitable.

It’s a reality that Barcelona have well known for years, and it’s a reality that Manchester City are adjusting to now that Pep Guardiola is in charge there. Asking the goalkeeper to play the ball as an outfield player will lead to the occasional highlight-reel mistake.

The upside, though, is a side that more often than not will be better equipped to play its way out of pressure in their own end, drawing the opposition up the pitch and springing a quick break. Occasional mistakes are accepted because of the perceived net positive.

“It was not perfect,” admitted Klopp. “There was a situation with Dejan [Lovren] with their passing, but things like this happen. More serious things like this happen to other goalkeepers. If you want a goalkeeper who plays football, you take the risk. That’s all. Everything is okay.”