Former players love to talk. Talk about their glory days, talk about how the game was better in their day, complain about how spoiled players are these days, or just generally yell at clouds until someone pays attention to them.
Apparently, Neville Southall is no exception. The former Everton goalkeeper, who played over 500 league matches on the blue side of the Mersey before an affinity for pies left him less than effective, has been making some declarations about Simon Mignolet, and... well, let's just say he doesn't like Liverpool's Belgian netminder very much.
"All I can say about Simon Mignolet is he’s definitely in my Top 20 of Premier League goalkeepers," Southall told the Echo. "And trust me, he doesn’t feature very high on it. He’s only 26, but from what I’ve seen, he’s just never going to be a Liverpool standard goalie."
Certainly a bold statement. Mignolet has been a lightning rod of criticism of late, fair or otherwise. The Belgian certainly has his flaws, but surely his shot-stopping ability and signs of steady improvement in the other parts of his game can't have escaped Southall's notice, right?
"If you plan on winning leagues and trophies, you need a keeper who’ll pull games out of the fire for you. I don’t see that in him. I don’t recall too many games when you go ‘flipping heck – if it wasn’t for him that would have been four or five nil’. On the contrary, in the big games away to City and Chelsea last season, he let a couple in that he should have kept out."
-Source: Liverpool Echo
Oh. Well then.
Look, on his day, Southall was a very, very good goalkeeper. But you know what? So is Mignolet. If Southall is going to ignore the fact that Mignolet does in fact make a very large number of very impressive saves, and has in fact kept Liverpool in a number of matches they wouldn't otherwise have been, then it's hard to take him seriously. When his main evidence consists of two goals in the highest-pressure matches of his career on plays that the defense had completely blown, well... it makes Southall look oblivious, at best.
Mignolet isn't perfect. He has a lot of improvement left to do. But to suggest that Mignolet is as of poor a quality as Southall is in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is the height of ignorance. Next thing you know, he'll be joining the growing crowd of voices demanding that Brad Jones become the primary starter in goal, which is lunacy pure and simple.
Could Liverpool get a better goalkeeper? Absolutely! But not without spending a lot of money better used elsewhere, and it's not like Mignolet is an Achilles' heel for the side right now. It would certainly be wise to get a better backup than Jones in order to push Mignolet to keep improving, but for now goalkeeping is not this side's problem, no matter what someone like Neville Southall says.