Writing Liverpool's Karius off so quickly is foolish and the real mistake

The summer signing from Mainz has experienced a mixed start to his career on Merseyside, but some of the criticism has been completely overblown, and is premature

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Here we are again, then. At the corner of He’s Just Not Convincing Avenue and He Should Be Dropped Street. We’ve met at this junction before where the careers of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Dejan Lovren and Philippe Coutinho - just for a start - were tossed in a bin and set ablaze.

Even Sadio Mane found himself the centre of discussion at those coordinates before he had even kicked a ball for Liverpool. And now, the paraffin is being poured on Loris Karius. After all of four starts.

It is a potent cocktail of impatience and ignorance; questioning a player’s mistakes is normal practice, but applying a full stop so quickly is madness. 

Jurgen Klopp and his backroom team analysed just short of a century of Bundesliga appearances before reaching the conclusion that the goalkeeper would be an extension of Liverpool's fighting football, and recruited him from Mainz at a snip for £4.7 million. 

Expert opinions were canvassed on Karius, and the club felt they were not just signing a stopper that intrinsically matched their aggressive approach, but one with the capacity to climb into the world-class bracket.

And so they paid not for perfection, but for the potential from a keeper who was only bettered by Manuel Neuer last season in what Klopp termed “goalkeeper country.”

Karius will err as he adapts to Liverpool’s demands, the alteration in how much he’s actively involved during a game, and while generating a better understanding of the league. He will most especially make mistakes because of the team’s fearless, front-foot methodology. The Reds are not timid nor safe, and while that encourages expansive, attractive football, it can also invite errors. 

Here, it’s different because we don’t let that many chances come through so you just have to stay focused and wait on the one or two balls that come towards goal,” Karius explained on his adjustment. 

“It’s a new challenge. We have a different style and we have a lot of quality in the team so we want to dominate games. 

“We want to play out from the back and there’s more risk in doing that sometimes.”

Karius is not in possession of the gloves by accident, but by design. Simon Mignolet didn’t do much wrong this season before finding himself on the bench, but the fine print is he can’t offer as much to Liverpool’s all-conquering ethos as his younger counterpart.

 

If you want a goalkeeper who plays football, you take the risk that sometimes the ball is bouncing in a different way,” as Klopp explained. And the manager is "quite comfortable" with that gamble, given how well Karius' attributes - a dynamic starting position, speed in coming off his line, his anticipation and agility - fuses within the greater framework. 

The German, like David de Gea at the onset of his Manchester United career, is developing in front of an unforgiving audience on a global scale. The picture of dodginess is painted too quickly, the unreliable narrative spread too thick.

The Spaniard, the best keeper in England with a fair argument that the title extends beyond these borders, was skewered in his debut season - soft, easy to get at, unbefitting of United - he was written off long before he had the opportunity to take off. “You have to be strong when things go wrong. Mistakes are normal; everyone makes them,” was de Gea’s reflection and there are certainly no early question marks over Karius’ steel. 

He has acknowledged his errors, pinpointed the areas he needs to be more assured in, and is confident his assertiveness will increase as his experience does. 



It is almost forgotten too that Karius' induction at Liverpool was punctured by a broken bone in his right hand after a commanding start to pre-season. 

He returned ahead of schedule, and had it not been for that setback, it would have been him kicking off the season in goal, not Mignolet.

Instead, he had to play the waiting game and now it’s the Belgian’s turn to sit out. 

How long that lasts is ultimately down to the performances of Karius, and while Mignolet has gone on a social media offensive, the tattooed stopper still has the advantage. 

Liverpool finally have a proper battle between the posts, and while Klopp has insisted there's no certified No. 1 at the club, the summer signing must maximise his opportunity to change that. 

Mistakes will be made, but the biggest one would be to discount Karius before he has fully displayed what he's all about.