• Premier League

Howard: Liverpool wrong on Mignolet

ESPN staff
December 18, 2014
Simon Mignolet has been dropped in favour of Liverpool reserve keeper Brad Jones © Getty Images

Everton keeper Tim Howard has said city rivals Liverpool got it wrong by dropping Simon Mignolet.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has used Brad Jones for his side's last two games after a series of inconsistent performances by the Belgium international. Rodgers said that Mignolet had been dropped "indefinitely" to allow him to regain his form "out of the firing line".

But American international Howard said that such a public gesture by the Liverpool manager could destroy Mignolet's confidence.

Howard, speaking at the launch of his autobiography The Keeper, said: "I feel for Simon, even though he's a Red. It's hard as a goalkeeper.

"I think the quote is 'taking the goalkeeper out of the spotlight'. But it only sheds more light on him.

"I don't agree with it. I think you have to go with a goalkeeper and appreciate that there are going to be ups and downs, especially in this league. It's so fast, it's so rough. It's a tough league for goalkeepers. But I feel for him. It's not easy."

Mignolet had been a Premier League ever-present for Liverpool since his nine-million-pound move from Sunderland in June 2013 - until Rodgers dropped him for Sunday's 3-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester United.

Howard said it would be a "hard road back" for Mignolet to recover from that blow.

The Everton goalkeeper said: "It's a big confidence position. It's not just about a goalkeeper having confidence. When you take him out of the team, and then you bring him back, there's a question as to whether the team and the fans have confidence in him.

"I'll be honest, I think it's a hard road back. When you get taken out of the team, sometimes there's no way back.

"It's unfortunate for a goalkeeper, but that's how it is. You can't come in and play the last 20 to 30 minutes, put in a good shift and win a few tackles. It's all or nothing with goalkeeping."

Howard suffered the disappointment of being dropped himself after joining Manchester United from MLS side Metro Stars in 2003, losing his place first to Roy Carroll and then to Edwin van der Sar.

The 35-year-old's Old Trafford career never quite recovered from a costly error that led to United's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Jose Mourinho's Porto in March 2004, with Howard parrying a Benni McCarthy free kick straight to Francisco Costinha, who scored the goal that won the tie.

"When I went to Manchester United, I was thrown right into the fire," Howard said. "I was 23 and I was a raw goalkeeper. My only experience was in Major League Soccer and I needed to grow.

"I wasn't going to knock on Sir Alex Ferguson's door and say: 'Look, don't play me for a while. Let me learn my trade for a few years.' That's not how it works. You deal with it the best that you can.

"There was a learning curve that had to happen. I was thankful that David Moyes took a chance on me by taking me to Everton.

"When I look at single moments in my career, that was probably the best thing that happened to me, coming here and getting the confidence of David Moyes.

"But there are no frustrations about my time at United. They got Edwin van der Sar, they went on to do great things, and my career has been on the up and up. I have absolutely no complaints."

Howard, who reaffirmed that he plans to retire when his Everton contract expires in 2018, feels that he became a better goalkeeper for his time at Old Trafford, even though it was not always much fun for him.

"It was like nothing I had ever known," Howard added. "I knew who I was going to be in the locker room with, and I knew who the manager was, so I tried to prepare myself.

"But nothing can prepare you for what it's like when Roy Keane yells at you, or Ferguson yells at you. All you want to do is crawl into a hole and never come out.

"I tried to keep my mouth shut as best as I could and get on with things."

Howard has been impressed by the way that United's current keeper, David de Gea, has established himself as arguably the Premier League's best after a rough start at Old Trafford following his move from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Speaking about the 24-year-old, Howard said: "I'm very impressed, partly because I went through that too and I had to leave. It was great to see them stick with David. He was a young keeper - younger than I was - when he went there.

"It's massive pressure, and I think he's done brilliantly."

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