Klopp’s Keeper Conundrum

With two high profile mistakes in the Champions League final and the subsequent news that he was concussed at the time, a question mark hangs over Loris Karius’ head. The Anfield Talk’s Ian (@ianyoungkop) tries to answer the question…

Liverpool’s loss to Real Madrid has expectedly put our goalkeeper situation back in focus. First of all, this is not a new problem for us, for me Liverpool have not had a top class keeper since Pepe Reina left in 2013. Even then arguably Pepe had regressed somewhat, from the keeper he’d been in previous years. So why have Liverpool struggled with keepers for so long? Especially when our rivals have had so many or at least 1 or 2 consistent performers. Van Der Sar, followed by De Gea at United, Chelsea had Cech followed by Courtois, and even though Arsenal and Manchester City haven’t had their success with goalkeepers, they’ve had better luck than us.

So why have Liverpool struggled with goalkeepers? I believe it’s for a number for reasons. First of all after Bruce Grobbelaar left and David James took over, it looked like David James may a more than adequate replacement for the Zimbabwean and spend a long time between the sticks for us.

Unfortunately for James and Liverpool a couple of high profile clangers a dip in form, too much time on his Nintendo and earning the nickname Calamity James, meant his career was pretty much over and he left in 99. Sander Westerveld arrived in 99 and after some initial good displays we thought we may have a good keeper, but the Liverpool keeper curse struck again, and after an abysmal performance away to Bolton, Westerveld found himself not only replaced by one, but two keepers in Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland. Jerzy became the established number one and all though made some great saves and had good performances, he never ever seemed to be consistent enough for me and never gave me confidence that he’d be anywhere near as good as we needed.

Chris Kirkland had a brief stint between the sticks, where it seemed every shot on target seemed to go in, and Chris went on to pastures new where his career was blighted by injury. Pepe Reina arrived in 2005, and after initially not looking great, settled and started to show his strength and agility and huge character, and won over Liverpool fans.

I believe Pepe Reina between 2005 and 2009 was an exceptional goalkeeper for us but his regression was there for all to see later on, plus his less that subtle flirting with his old club Barcelona left the Liverpool hierarchy and many fans feeling that the time was right for Pepe to move on. Pepe was then replaced by Sunderland’s Belgian shot stopper and despite saving a penalty on his league debut, he was never fully convincing for Liverpool fans, with lapses in concentration and his in ability to use his feet, Liverpool fans always wanted someone better.

So what happened with Liverpool and goalkeepers? After having Tommy Lawrence followed by Ray Clemence (considered by most to be the best we ever had) then followed by Bruce Grobbelaar, our form when signing new keepers is patchy to say the least. Apart from Pepe Reina and Karius , Liverpool don’t shy away from spending big money on goalkeepers, we even spent big on two goalies at one point (Dudek and Kirkland). Ironically for a team and supporters that notably every game shows a sign of respect for visiting keepers, we’ve never really had one that we’ve loved as much as oldies, our love for Pepe seemed a fleeting affair compared to the long term relationship’s with greats Lawrence, Clemence and Grobbelaar.

So after Karius’ Champions League floundering, what does Klopp do? Does he put Karius back in the horse and keep him as our number 1? In my opinion, I don’t think that would work, as much as an improvement as he was over Mignolet, I still wasn’t fully convinced by him, a keeper is generally judged on his mistakes that lead to goals, but Karius seems to make several that we were lucky never lead to goals: Kolarov’s shot that went through Loris’ hands and on to the cross bar being the one that stands out.

Either way this summer with Mignolet probably moving on, we need a new keeper and I’d rather us sign a world class keeper, than us sign a back up to Karius this season. What if we sign a back up, and Karius yet again fails to convince, then potentially we have a keeper who isn’t ready to be number one, with a keeper expecting to be a back up to him! We need to use this summer to solve our problems with goalkeepers, if that takes better part of £100m, Liverpool need to do it, we paid £75m for a central defender, now let’s a make as big as statement with our keeper and bring back Liverpool’s love affair with great keepers.

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