Liverpool goalkeeper coach John Achterberg has leapt to the defence of Simon Mignolet and offered an insight into the training behind the Belgian’s recent revival.
Mignolet has been magnificent over the past few weeks and has gone someway towards proving he deserves to retain his place as Jurgen Klopp’s number one next season.
Crucial saves in away wins against Stoke, West Brom and Watford within the last month have seen him pose as a solid foundation to a less spectacular yet seemingly effective Liverpool approach. Less slick, less entertaining, but an approach that has earned results.
Achterberg has highlighted the focus in training that has helped the former Sunderland improve following a couple of difficult moments earlier in the season.
“We talk about how we can implement aggressive situations in training,” he told the Daily Mail.
“There are so many goalkeeping tactics: your body language, dealing with physical presence, being dominant and how you present on the pitch with good aggression in the game – but it is also about making the right decisions.”
“Now he is really aggressive to the point where he is not afraid to put his knee in my back. That’s what I want because it is about creating aggression.”
“If it is (Troy) Deeney you are trying to stop getting the ball you have to be streetwise and aggressive. You can be nice off the pitch but on it you are fighting for your living and for the team.”
“Simon has definitely done really well. I think he’s had a good season.”No-one is perfect and that is the problem. If you play for Liverpool you are expected to keep clean sheets in every game and win 9-0. Realistically that is not how it works – only on the PlayStation.”
It has been Mignolet’s physicality, leadership and commanding presence that has impressed Reds fans the most with much of his criticism being primarily based around those areas in the past.
He has given his back four more reason to be confident in having him behind them. He has rediscovered his self belief in a Liverpool shirt and is coming up with big saves at a time when his manager and team needs them most.