Liverpool's goalkeeping woes: Personnel problem or something much bigger?
Liverpool goalkeepers have been inconsistent since 2010. Here's a quick study into where the problem really lies
Liverpool's goalkeepers, between the sticks, have been a major letdown since the arrival of their goalkeeping coach John Achterberg. The first time I heard of it, was from a fellow Kop, that maybe, Achterberg is the problem.
Former Liverpool legend, Bruce Grobbelaar underlined the credibility of Achterberg in the past and added that he is not the man to guide the Reds' goalkeepers. The Dutchman arrived at Liverpool as a goalkeeping coach for the reserves and academy goalkeepers during 2009, before getting promoted as first-team goalkeeping coach in July 2011.
Under his guidance, Liverpool's number one choices, former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina and current Liverpool custodian, Simon Mignolet have simply deteriorated.
Was Reina's decline at Liverpool truly his fault?
Pepe Reina was exceptional at everything and had the total package within himself which you would expect from a goalkeeper. The former Villarreal man was arguably the League's best goalkeeper alongside Petr Cech during his prime days.
But, his last two years at Anfield had many whammy moments under the goalkeeping department, headed by the former Tranmere Rovers goalkeeper.
Sadly, the Spaniard declined only under Achterberg, and not because of the injuries he suffered, or due to ageing, and was subsequently shown the exit door at Anfield. Even now, Reina, for Napoli, has been consistently good.
These stats show that Pepe Reina, who made errors only on a couple of occasions from 2005 to 2010, made 8 errors under Achterberg in just 2 years in the Premier League. Not only errors leading to goal, but also the decline in the save percentage, catches, punches and high acclaims, prove that John Achterburg did no good to the then Liverpool goalkeeper.
As we can see, Reina's form started to dip when Achterberg was appointed as head of Liverpool's goalkeeping department. The current Napoli goalkeeper spent eight years at Anfield, but his treatment in his last two years at the club left a sour taste.
After this, the Reds' decision to send the Spaniard to Napoli on loan (without informing him) backfired, and left Reina frustrated with the decision made by Brendan Rodgers. The 35-year-old spent one year at Bayern Munich and a year later, he decided to go back to Napoli.
Following Reina's exit, Brendan Rodgers had two options to go for either Sunderland's Simon Mignolet or Stoke City's Asmir Begovic. Liverpool decided to push for Simon Mignolet, who was one of the stand-out performers for the Black Cats in their relegation battle.
Both the shot-stoppers were interested in a Liverpool move, but the former Liverpool boss decided to sign Mignolet. The former Sunderland shot-stopper was voted as the Belgian goalkeeper of the year in 2009 at just 21.
When he was with the Black Cats, he was considered as one of the exciting players and was known for his impressive shot-stopping ability but, has not improved a bit since joining Liverpool.
The figures don't lie, don't they? Simon Mignolet has severely regressed since joining Liverpool. The numbers only seem to be going from bad to worse. In fact, some people point out that Mignolet at Sunderland was a much better keeper than he is now. This, surely, highlights how can John Achterberg is proving to be detrimental for the Reds, yet again.
Yet another example
Lets take Brad Jones as an example, he didn't feature in too many games for the Reds, and was deemed surplus to requirements because he was never rated by anybody at Liverpool.
Now, playing for Feyenoord in the Netherlands, he was voted as the best goalkeeper in the league! When an Australian is voted as the best goalkeeper in a European league, he can cent percent prove to be a decent backup for the Reds, without a shadow of a doubt.
Karius - the next victim?
Having consistently followed the Bundesliga, Loris Karius was made it to my bracket of top 3 goalkeepers in the German top division. However, watching him make mistakes last season, when he was Jurgen Klopp's number one, was shocking.
But, his mistakes were uncharacteristic of him from his performances in the Bundesliga two years ago. Karius, who was voted the second-best Bundesliga goalkeeper at the age of 22, can't suddenly lose the ability to save a shot or punch a cross, can he?
The German's reflexes are extraordinary, and he has the ability to become a great goalkeeper in the upcoming years. But, for Liverpool, Karius' confidence seems to dip when the ball is in the air and he's required to jump.
Achterberg needs to go
The Reds have struggled defensively since Rafa Benitez left the club, but these numbers should be worrying for any goalkeeper who may be considering a role under the goalkeeping coach.
Liverpool's goalkeepers have immense potential, having proved themselves at their previous clubs. Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet cannot be wasted like Pepe Reina by Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp was quick to reshuffle the backroom, but John Achterberg is the only remaining entity from Brendan Rodgers' era.
The problem truly seems to stem from the goalkeeping coach and not the goalkeepers, who are eager to learn. John Achterberg should get the sack for all the dispensable work he has done for the club over 7 years.
Liverpool should consider bringing in an experinced goalkeeper like Oliver Kahn or Edwin Van Der Sar as their next goalkeeping coach to guide their future shot-stoppers.