There’s a new number one in town, and for those who have forgotten during his time on the bench, he wears the number 22 shirt. Jürgen Klopp was rewarded with a clean sheet and three points against Middlesbrough after deciding to drop Loris Karius to the bench in favour of Simon Mignolet. The 28-year-old looked assured and now has an opportunity to make the position his own after Klopp spoke of his unwillingness to change goalkeepers from game to game.
“I don’t want to change each week – that was not the plan,” Klopp said. “Simon had a really good game [against Middlesbrough] so he will be in goal, for sure.
“I tried to explain it after the game: it was about not pushing Loris [Karius] through the situation. Now he can use the time in training and have no pressure, only the pressure he makes himself with getting better.
“I know about how fantastic he is as a goalkeeper but of course it’s not enough if only I know it. That’s all. Simon did really well, so [there is] nothing to think about, only if something happens and then we have Loris again.”
In his fourth season at Liverpool, Mignolet is Liverpool’s Christmas number one again. Interestingly, Mignolet’s return in midweek came two years to the day that he was dropped by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers for the infamous 3-0 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford. His spell out of the team lasted only 12 days after Brad Jones succumbed to injury in the first half of the Boxing Day victory over Burnley—far shorter than the period he has had to watch Loris Karius from the sidelines.
After almost three months, Klopp made a decision to switch goalkeepers once more. Karius’ broken hand gave Mignolet an early chance to start the club’s opening four league games, but the 23-year-old struggled in crucial moments against AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United. Although Karius wasn’t the sole culprit when Liverpool dropped points in those games, both the harsh criticism and worrying mistakes led what Klopp described as “a good decision” for both goalkeepers.
“It’s never about the decision – it’s always about the explanation,” he explained about the explanation. “And I explained it. In this moment I thought it made absolute sense and it is actually a good decision for both, how I see it. That’s not always the common view, but all good.
“I never make final judgements about my players, as long as the attitude is good. How I always say, I’m really responsible for the boys that they can deliver their best. Sometimes the job is to put somebody out of the firing line, out of the public view. But only step aside and use the time to get into your best shape. That’s all, nothing else.
“I know how it is in all public discussions and things like this, but I’m absolutely not interested. It’s not what you want to do. But it’s the same as always, I decided for a player not against another one.
“We only made the change because Simon is in brilliant shape. Then we have to use it.”