Liverpool, an icon, and some legacy guarding 0


There’s a nasty edge to Bruce Grobbelaar’s comments about Simon Mignolet.

The former Liverpool goalkeeper has had his say on the most recent of his successors and has done so in an unnecessarily nasty way to the BBC.

“I’ve always said that he doesn’t command his area. Yes, he’s a great shot stopper. I was slaughtered last year by Liverpool fans saying that I was being too harsh on him.

I’m not being too harsh on him. Not at all. He’s worse than Dracula, because at least Dracula comes out of his coffin now and then. He seems to stay on his line and that’s it.

The whole 18-yard area - not just the six-yard area - is the goalkeeper’s, in modern goalkeeping. If you come out and get the ball, and you get smacked, you’re going to get the foul. It’s not rocket science.

And he’s a big lad. As soon as that ball’s in the air, get out. Come for it. You’re going to get a lot more fouls for you, and there’ll be fewer balls going into the back of your net.”

Whenever Grobbelaar says anything, irrespective of the specific topic, you generally get the sense that it’s self-orientated - and this has a similar feel.

One of the strongest associations with Liverpool is loyalty.  Typically, whenever you hear an old player discussing the current side’s form or the club’s general state, it’s usually with a great deal of affection.  Not in a passive sense, either, they really do appear to want the modern players to reach the levels that they themselves attained in the 1970s and 1980s.

It’s one of the club’s most likeable qualities; the community which seems to exist and the intangible connection between all of those names from the past.

There’s not a lot of affection on display in these remarks, though.  Grobbelaar isn’t constructively criticising Mignolet, he’s ridiculing him - he’s figuratively throwing him under the bus at a time when his confidence must be perilously low.

It’s just so snide.  Yes, the Belgian warrants criticism and his form is a big problem for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers, but let’s not pretend that life is easy behind the current back-four or that the performances of those players are in any way conducive to stable goalkeeping.

Defending is a team effort.  The more reliable a centre-back pairing is, the more confident a goalkeeper will ultimately be in leaving his line to diffuse set-pieces and crosses.  Clearly, the chemistry between Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mignolet isn’t the strongest at the moment and, although that doesn’t in any way make the goalkeeper an innocent bystander, it’s a very important part of any conversation about his poor form.

Does Mignolet have adjustments and improvements to make?  Of course, but does he benefit in any way from this stinging attack?  Not in the slightest.

Grobbelaar sounds very self-serving.  These are the kind of remarks an ex-player makes when he’s trying to guard his own legacy.  He’s an icon at the club and he has a responsibility not to turn contemporary players into punchlines.

He knows better than anybody how unwelcome this must be for Simon Mignolet.

For Squawka: Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool, and the need to avoid overreaction.

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