So, Simon Mignolet has been given a new five year contract and everyone, and their dog, are apoplectic with rage (if the internet is an indicator of common opinion). Personally, I find the affair rather fascinating. What exactly is Klopp trying to do? He must be able to see to the keeper’s inconsistent performances on the pitch and he must be aware of the increasingly negative feelings towards him. Yet he has stood behind the Belgian both publicly and privately, a fact Mignolet is all too happy to communicate. Is Klopp making a completely foreseeable mistake or does he see something most are missing?
Perhaps Klopp is basing his decisions on facts rather than opinions. It is undeniable that Mignolet kept the most Premier League clean sheets throughout 2015 and is second only to Joe Hart in the number of clean sheets kept by a PL keeper at their current club. However, cold statistics alone still don’t blot out the images of goals being scored at the keeper’s near post, arms flapping at corners and indecision when coming off the goal line. Could it be that Klopp has merely offered Mignolet a new contract to bump up his resale value and thus create a bigger pot to spend on a replacement keeper?
Maybe, maybe not. What we could be seeing is Klopp’s infamous man management skills operating at their softest setting. We know Mignolet is a confidence player, his performances can dip drastically when he begins to doubt his own ability, but the stats prove that underneath all the hysteria and controversy is a naturally able keeper that needs to improve specific elements of his game. Klopp could genuinely feel he is able to do that. Add to that the fact that Klopp has made it clear on several occasions that Mignolet has been wrongly blamed for errors caused by the shortcomings of his defence and it’s clear Klopp believes Mignolet has had to operate in less than ideal circumstances. Maybe Klopp, having only joined the club recently, is viewing Mignolet with an objectivity we are incapable of after experiencing all the highs and lows of his Liverpool career?
Whatever Klopp’s motivation is regarding Mignolet there is little doubt that the way he handles this issue could have a considerable impact on his role as Liverpool manager.