Are we too quick to write off goalkeepers in the Premier League?

Loris Karius' transformation in recent months has parallels with David De Gea's career at Man United

Once upon a time David De Gea lost his place as Man United’s number one to Anders Lindegaard.

Yes, that actually happened.

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Remember him?

Fast forward six years or so and De Gea is indisputably the best in England, perhaps even on the planet.

And his initial struggles certainly have parallels with the transformation we’ve seen from Loris Karius.

The Liverpool stopper was heavily, and rightly, criticised for a number of basic errors in the first 18 months of his Anfield career.

AP:Associated Press
Karius is beaten by a weak free kick

Karius wasn’t just getting the complicated things wrong, it was his bread and butter, meat and potato that didn’t convince either.

Goalkeepers more than any other position can’t hide behind their mistakes, instead brutally exposed by the repercussions of costly blunders.

So are we too quick and trigger happy to dismiss them when they first arrive in the Premier League?

De Gea’s first season

Here comes an assuming, scrawny looking lad from Madrid ultimately hoping to emulate Edwin van der Sar. Good luck with that, son.

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
De Gea’s first season shaped him

De Gea gets battered and bruised by centre-backs throughout the course of the 2011/12 season.

He had to pick the ball out his net SIX TIMES during United’s lowest day in Premier League history at home to their great rivals.

He then had to stomach getting dropped for Lindegaard for a key period of the campaign after his weakness from set pieces was continually exposed.

Mark Robinson - The Sun
A derby day to forget

But De Gea used criticism and did what all great achievers in all forms of life do – they learn from their mistakes.

A turning point, according to the Spaniard, came when he pulled off that save from Juan Mata’s free kick to preserve a point for United in a 3-3 draw with Chelsea.

THAT save from Mata

Since then De Gea has barely looked back, earning a spot in the PFA Team of the Year four of the last five season.

But naturally it took him a season to really acclimatise.

Karius’ form

To be fair to the young German it didn’t take a lot to look better than Simon Mignolet.

But certainly initially he made a pig’s ear of it.

PA:Press Association
Shutting out the haters

Karius was poached from Mainz in the same mould as his idol Manuel Neuer; a composed sweeper keeper with a commanding distribution.

But his early performances were littered with nervous moments, prompting Gary Neville to tear into him after a 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth last season.

This campaign certainly didn’t start that much better either.

Karius is far more commanding than he used to be

A soft free kick at Spartak Moscow, a goal at his near post in the win over Man City; these were moments indicative of a player still struggling for confidence.

So what changed?

The arrival of a certain colossus at the back has certainly helped.

Virgil van Dijk’s long-awaited move from Southampton has completed transformed the Liverpool defence and the influence on Karius is tangible.

VVD the man mountain

The German now looks a commanding figure knowing he has a true leader in Van Dijk in front of him regularly.

Karius has made a number of pivotal saves in recent weeks too, denying Harry Kane from the penalty spot and a finger tip claw from Mo Diame last weekend.

Karius denies Kane
EPL_dre FT Liverpool 2 - 0 Newcastle 2018-03-03 19:30:28

With five clean sheets in his last seven games he now looks a completely different animal deserving of the Reds’ number one jersey for years to come.

Ultimately it’s easy for us to pick apart goalkeepers.

If a midfielder isn’t playing well the rest of his team-mates can carry him, but if a goalkeeper makes an error there’s nowhere to hide.

PA:Press Association
Karius and Mignolet have both been panned this season

The Premier League is a tough mistress like no other in Europe in terms of its physical demands.

The De Gea and Karius cases illustrate the patience we need in allowing new shot stoppers to adapt.

You can follow Adam on Twitter – @AdamJoneSJ


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