By Jay Pearson – @JimmyCully
Venmore Street, opposite Anfield is where the route home from the match starts. Venmore into Robson Street and then onto Mere Lane into the Mere Bank Pub is a 0.7 mile walk from Anfield.
It was this route in 2015/16 where we (myself and four other match going Reds) renamed that journey to our first post-match pint “Mignolet Mile”.
After the home game against Sunderland in February 2016, where some Liverpool fans walked out of Anfield on 77 minutes in protest to potential rises in ticket prices, frustrations were aimed at the Belgian ‘keeper for failing to keep out an Adam Johnson free-kick late in the game.
The outcry after the game was loud, and a replacement goalkeeper in the summer was high on the list of priorities for not just us, but also many other Liverpool fans. Thus, “Mignolet Mile” was born.
It was then jointly named “Karius Kilometre” after (at the time) our new German No.1 had a number of uneasy games and was making mistakes. But under happier circumstances it’s now called “Alisson Avenue” where we rejoice in the ‘Bearded One’ and talk about how good he is.
The time has finally come where we have to say goodbye to Simon Mignolet. The 31-year-old has decided to go back to his home country after he agreed a five-year deal with Club Brugge. He leaves Liverpool after six years at the club. In that time, he made 204 appearances in the famous red shirt and leaves as a European champion.
Mignolet was signed in the summer of 2013 as the new No.1 after the departure of Pepe Reina. First came an eventful debut in a Liverpool shirt against Stoke. His first-half performance didn’t make it easy for the Liverpool supporters watching. He failed to claim a few crosses into the box that left the side very vulnerable and, at one point, only the crossbar spared his blushes.
But it was late in the second half where he went from zero to hero. Saving a John Walters penalty and the rebound to keep the score 1-0 and seal the three points for Liverpool on the opening day of the emotional 13/14 campaign. That’s how every ‘keeper would imagine their debut to go right? A penalty save at the death to make sure your team wins? Perfect!
He’s had many memorable saves in a Liverpool shirt. More penalty saves against Theo Walcott and Diego Costa, one-on-one stops to deny Son Heung-min and Joe Allen, and THAT game against Stoke to name a few.
Mignolet was always a good shot-stopper, there is no question about that. There are many YouTube videos showcasing his best saves and you cannot deny some of those moments.
But there were elements of his game that Liverpool fans would get frustrated with. His decision making at times was poor. He was never confident of coming for a cross and his footwork was questionable.
Unfortunately, this is how his Liverpool career will undoubtedly be summed up. The mistakes outweigh the match-winning saves.
What we cannot forget though is his professionalism during his time. He wore the Liverpool shirt over 200 times and not many players get such an honour. During the mistakes, he kept his head down and carried on. Didn’t let any negativity get into his head and played his game.
Even when Karius arrived, Mignolet fought for his place and Klopp played them both during the 16/17 and 17/18 campaigns.
After Kiev, there was no way Liverpool fans would let Klopp install Mignolet as No.1 again. Too much had gone on in the past and if we wanted to be up there with the best, we needed a top class ‘keeper and that’s exactly what we got in Alisson Becker.
Mignolet proved that you can be a vital part of a squad when only playing a handful of games. He was always ready to fill in if needed as he is a model professional. He was extremely active on social media during our run to European glory and pushing City all the way in the league supporting his team mate.
He wasn’t putting his head in the sand because he lost his place to the Brazilian No.1, he got on with it and supported Alisson and the team each week. He kept the motivation going and, as a veteran of the squad, had a dressing room influence on the rest of the team. Coach John Achterberg has spoken highly of Mignolet’s work with the younger goalkeepers too.
These things cannot be ignored and have not been. Liverpool fans are among the best to support players during their ‘dark times’ and also know when a player leaves to give him the send-off he deserves.
His social media presence didn’t go unnoticed. It showed the love for the club and the team during a period where it was possible, a big trophy was on its way to Anfield and for that we thank Mignolet for his commit to this wonderful football club and wish him well.
At the time of writing, it looks as though free agent Adrian is all set to become Alisson’s understudy and will be on the bench this Friday against Norwich.
What are we getting?
Adrian recently left West Ham United after six years with the club. The 32-year-old found himself in a similar position to Mignolet having played backup to the likes of Darren Randolph, Joe Hart and, latterly, Lukasz Fabianski over the last few seasons. He’s made 125 appearances during his time in the Premier League, and he’s kept 35 clean sheets.
They say you cannot buy experience, well Adrian has that in abundance. During is Premier League career he has amassed more than 11,000 minutes on the pitch.
He has conceded 167 goals which averages to 1.34 goals per 90 minutes. His save percentage is not too bad considering the amount of games and defenders he’s played with, this sits at .720% and playing with better defenders will likely see this figure lower.
In his five full seasons with the Hammers he’s kept a clean sheet in 28% of his games. In contrast, Joe Hart kept clean sheets in 48% in his nine seasons with Manchester City, four more years than Adrian.
Liverpool are getting a solid back up to Alisson. Adrian will no doubt know his role already within the team. He will provide solid competition in training for Alisson without really threatening the No.1 shirt. However, he can be called upon, most likely during League Cup games and (hopefully not) if Alisson picks up an injury or needs a rest.
There are many goalkeepers out there that could be back-up to Alisson but command a hefty fee. Players like Jack Butland at Stoke, Neil Etheridge at Cardiff and Alex McCarthy at Southampton would have price tags that you just wouldn’t normally pay for a No.2. So, for Liverpool to get Adrián on a free with his level of experience is a smart piece of business.
Liverpool are signing a Premier League goalkeeper that is decent between the sticks and will give fans and everyone associated with the club the peace of mind knowing they have a fairly reliable back up on the bench for the upcoming campaign.