Opinion

A long road back to redemption for Karius

Events in Kiev could not have gone any worse for 1 man, step forward goalkeeper Loris Karius. From making a dreadful pass for the opening goal to managing to end the game as a contest for the 3rd, the stage on which these multiple errors occured instantly drew scathing reactions from even the most supportive sections of the fanbase. Immediately the statistics that supported Jurgen Klopp’s decision to replace Mignolet with the German went right out of the window.

Unfortunately, it was deja-vu for Liverpool who have seen keepers in recent years making mistakes, David James didn’t earn the nickname calamity for the fun of it. Sander Westerveld had a nightmare in the treble winning season against Chelsea, punching into his own net direct from a corner at Stamford Bridge before allow a long range Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink strike find it’s way into the net at Anfield. Jerzy Dudek, a cult hero from Istanbul, is also remembered for a howler of his own against Manchester United that allowed Diego Forlan to score. Despite some supporters claiming Pepe Reina to be the best goalkeeper we have had since Ray Clemence, even he was capable of errors, a moment of madness in a Merseyside Derby when he literally threw the ball at the head of Andy Johnson instead of knocking it over for a corner and then the opening match of the 2010-11 season, handing Arsenal a point by pushing the ball over the line after it had hit the post or even letting a shot through his legs giving a point to Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League. Simon Mignolet made some as well, leading to calls for him to be replaced, and despite making a fantastic save later in the Capital One Cup final in 2016, allowing Fernandinho to score was another error and even Adam Bogdan made an instant rod for his back by dropping the ball to allow Nathan Ake to score the opening and then Ighalo easily made it 2-0 when he should really have saved it.

Karius had already had his moments, namely in an away match at Bournemouth in December 2016 where he spilled a shot that allowed Nathan Ake to seal a 4-3 win as a 3-1 lead was thrown away. The ball slipped through his hands in the semi final against Roma but did not end up in the net. Manchester City had already scored a goal at his near pots earlier in the campaign but it was the nature of the errors, the stage they happened on that probably made these seem worse and the fact both occurred in the same game. A game which had promised ever so much to Liverpool supporters.

The summer break also saw him vilified when posting an online video instead of being a recluse with many comparing it to an episode of Baywatch. I was there 2 weeks ago at Chester when Karius returned and was the 1st to applaud him as he entered the field of play for the warm up, something others supporters then potentially reluctantly followed. But even in the warm up with the cameras not even directly on him, his inability to catch a practice shot and let it through him was captured on LFCTV and went viral and another error allowing Tranmere a way back into another friendly when he chose not to catch a strike from a free kick which Tranmere netted the replay. Klopp never threw the keeper under the bus but admitted that any mistake would be magnified at least in the short term although the rumours that he would remain Liverpool number 1 caused a nervousness with the fan base.

The decision on Thursday to announce Alisson and then subsequently sell Danny Ward to Leicester on Friday poses an interesting question for Karius and his future. Realistically, Simon Mignolet is more likely to leave for pastures new than the German but with Alisson seemingly taking the number 1 shirt (especially when £65m or so has been splashed on him), it appears Karius may be our cup keeper for the campaign but that is probably the best decision for all concerned. Either loan him to a mid-table club to get his self confidence back or let him slowly build it back with the backing of supporters. He is not the 1st to make errors, he probably won’t be the last but for now he is at a juncture where the easy option would be to leave and end this chapter but I would hope he would have something about him to get the errors out of his system and establish himself as a good back up option for Liverpool rather than filling supporters with dread once his name appears on the teamsheet.

Matthew Purchase

 @kopitesaint91

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