Dudek – Mignolet is good but he needs “someone like Carra” in front of him

Jerzy Dudek urges patience with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet – but says he needs “someone like Carra” in front of him if Liverpool are to get the best from him.

Jerzy Dudek has spoken out about the current incumbent between the sticks for Liverpool, Simon Mignolet, who has been the subject of much criticism from fans despite being handed a new long term contract recently.

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Dudek was a Liverpool player for six years, the peak of which was of course that night in Istanbul when Liverpool picked up their fifth European Cup, thanks in no small part to his heroics in goal, but he also found himself subject to criticism from time to time.

Asked about Mignolet ahead of a charity event he’s hosting in Liverpool next month, the Polish keeper said: “He is a good goalkeeper.

“He will get better too,” he added.

On signing his new deal last week Mignolet said: “I’m getting older as well and coming into the years where people would say ‘those are the years a keeper is at his best’.”

Dudek agrees: “He is 27 now, which is younger than me when I signed for Liverpool, he is just getting to the best years for a keeper.”

Jerzy said: “He’s good with his feet and he is good on the line.

“He has had some problems with high balls – crosses – but a lot of keepers have the same problem in England.”

The former Liverpool player suggests that to get the best out of him the Reds may need to move in the transfer market.

“I think he needs someone in front of him,” Dudek said. “Someone like Jamie Carragher or Sami Hyypia, someone who can organise and lead the defence.”


 

Meet Jerzy at An Evening with Jerzy Dudek in Liverpool on February 5th at The Shankly Hotel – see 5times.co.uk/dudek for details.

An Evening with Jerzy Dudek in Liverpool

Liverpool must see Teixeira deal through – Reds transfer failures must stop

It looked like it was going to be a very quiet January for Liverpool – until the news broke that a bid had been made for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira. But will the deal go through? It’s vital that it does, argues Jim Boardman

According to reports Ian Ayre is in Florida, at Shakhtar Donetsk’s winter training camp, trying to force a deal through for their 26-year-old attacking player Alex Teixeira. With the January window down to its final ten days and Liverpool showing no signs of adding any significant names to the squad for this season the story took fans somewhat by surprise.

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There is no doubt at all that Liverpool need more firepower with their only fit recognised frontman, Christian Benteke, looking nothing like the £32.5m striker Brendan Rodgers tried to make him last summer.

Daniel Sturridge is best forgotten about – for the time being if not longer – given his continuing struggles with various injuries and apart from those two Jürgen Klopp wasn’t exactly handed a lot to work with from a goalscoring point of view. Danny Ings, who was signed after running down his Burnley contract, looked promising before suffering an injury that sees him out for the rest of the season. Mario Balotelli was loaned out for the season, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini were sold at the start of it.

Klopp, despite his kind words about Christian Benteke, clearly doesn’t see him as the solution to Liverpool’s problem despite him being top scorer on seven goals and has tended to instead use £29m Roberto Firmino as a striker of sorts for many of the games. Firmino, however, has only scored three goals all season.

Aside from their striker woes Liverpool have been hit by a long-term drought from players elsewhere on the field. Gone are the days, it seems, when the Liverpool midfield would chip in with a fair proportion of the Reds’ tally, something that stood out during that amazing spell in 2014 when Liverpool flirted with the title but relied a little too heavily on the goals of just two players, Sturridge and the about-to-be-sold Luis Suarez. By not replacing the one who left and not providing cover for the one who stayed but kept getting injuries it was little surprise Liverpool saw the goals dry up.

Liverpool absolutely have to start finding goals from players other than whoever is up front.

Adam Lallana is yet to score in his 18 league games so far this season, which is the same tally from the same number of appearances as Jordon Ibe, who at least has age on his side. Jordan Henderson has been injured but one goal in nine games is hardly helping the cause, whilst James Milner has managed two from 17 – and one of those was from the spot.

Even Philippe Coutinho, now also on Liverpool’s long injury list, has only hit five from his 17 league games, a low total considering what he has shown he is capable of. Winger Lazar Marcovic, signed for £20m a year before, has spent this season out on loan, presumably having failed to show any signs of coming good as far as the previous manager was concerned. Without decent wingers putting in decent crosses it’s difficult to see Christian Benteke doing much of what he’s best at.

So which gap will Alex Teixeira fill if the deal goes through – will he be used as a striker, a No.10, a wide player? He is described as an attacking midfielder who can play across the full width of the field and even as the main striker, although it’s as a No.10 or wide player he gets most of his games.  We’ll have to wait and see how Klopp plans to use him – but first we have to wait and see if Ian Ayre can get this one across the line and his track record isn’t great with Ukrainian clubs.

Two years ago the Reds CEO flew out to try and secure the services of winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk but the deal fell through amidst claims from the Ukrainian club that Liverpool were unable to deliver the funds before the window closed. Brendan Rodgers denied those claims, defending his CEO and members of the transfer committee.

“The only thing I will say is the football club done everything possible to get the player in,” Rodgers said at the time. “In every aspect.

“Finance, we had the doctor out there, the chief scout, everyone.

“Categorically, Ian Ayre did a brilliant job negotiating. The money wasn’t the problem”

Whatever the problem was, it left Liverpool without a player that might just have given them that extra push towards an unexpected league title and with the deal falling through right at the end of the window it wasn’t possible to find an alternative. It also wasn’t the first time Ayre had come back empty handed from talks with a Ukrainian club.

In summer 2013 the selling club was, as it is now, Shakhtar Donetsk and this time the target was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Liverpool spent what seemed like an age trying to get the deal done, only for him to move to Germany instead, where he linked up with current LFC boss Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

To get this deal done now would be a massive boost to morale amongst fans who are confident their manager has what it takes to get Liverpool facing the right way and moving forward again but are concerned about the tools he is expected to do it with. With the closure of the window moving ever closer Liverpool’s business amounted to signing a Championship defender on an emergency loan, a young midfielder on a deal that sees him go straight back on loan to the selling club and a contract extension for a goalkeeper most fans lost faith with a long time ago.

Chances are the goalkeeper has got his extension to protect his sell-on value should the Reds eventually sign the top-class commanding keeper any club with title ambitions need and the loan signing of Steven Caulker gives Liverpool cover at a time of injury crisis without the need to waste money on a player who might not quite be the right fit for the manager. Marko Grujic is one for the future, as his transfer fee suggests.

The reports say Liverpool’s opening bid was for around €32m (£24.7m) with some reports suggesting that the deal would also include add-ons that would make it worth nearer £29m. This is similar to the reported terms of the deal done to bring Firmino to the club, the suggestion being he cost an initial £22m rising to £29m.

Reports also suggest Donetsk value their asset, one they’ve had since he was 19, at far more than anything Liverpool are offering and, given they are owned by the richest man in Ukraine, oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ian Ayre might just have to rethink his strategy.

Teixeira’s stats are pretty mouthwatering, he’s scored 67 times in 146 games for Shakhtar, including an astounding 26 goals from 25 games this season.  If you think that sounds impressive, his league record for this campaign is 22 goals in just 15 games.

Teixeira wouldn’t be able to join Liverpool’s assault on the Europa League if he signed – Shakhtar are didn’t qualify from their Champions League group and as a result have dropped into the Europa League making him ineligible to play for any other club in either of UEFA’s competitions.

It doesn’t matter. With those goal stats, Liverpool could still make very good use of him in the other three competitions they are involved in and, assuming this is a player Klopp wants at the club, the club must to do all it can to ensure the deal goes through. There have been far too many failures in Liverpool’s transfer dealings in recent years.

Expect more anger – disappointment has long since passed

West Ham completed a double over Liverpool with a 2-0 win in the first game of the New Year to add to their 3-0 win over the Reds at Anfield earlier in the season. It was another miserable day for Liverpool and afterwards manager Jürgen Klopp, like most Liverpool fans, was seething.

“Not enough, not enough in the decisive moments,” the Reds boss told the TV cameras.

“We had the ball, we had possession, we had not enough finishes. We had a few finishes, we had a bit of bad luck in a few situations, but that’s not what I want to see to be honest.”

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Klopp is not one to hide behind bad luck or questionable refereeing decisions – “that’s football” he usually says – because once an incident has taken place it’s over and it’s time to respond, to react in the right way.

It’s a refreshing approach after seeing so many Liverpool sides in recent years drop their heads and as good as give up in the wake of a bit of misfortune. Sadly, Klopp didn’t see that new kind of approach from his players today, particularly for the first goal.

“In the decisive moments we have to be there,” Klopp said. “We are responsible for the result and everything that happened today.

“In a game like this where you see you can be better you have to be better – and you have to win, not to lose 2-0 because of two moments.”

Alberto Moreno was fouled as he neared the West Ham byline 20 seconds or so before the opening goal. As the Reds full-back rolled around in apparent agony the referee waved play on and West Ham did play on. Liverpool stopped. West Ham scored.

Replays showed it was a foul, but the whistle hadn’t gone and the Liverpool players seemed more concerned with why it hadn’t been blown than what was happening around them.

Klopp said: “For the first goal, foul or no foul on Alberto, I saw in the eyes of my players they thought it was a foul too but if no whistle we have to defend and we didn’t defend the cross – 1-0.

“Second goal we played five against one I think, on the right wing, and don’t win the ball?

“That’s not pressing, that’s something.” Depressing? Frustrating? Stupid?

“We got the cross, again Andy Carroll made this time the goal – 2-0.

“And then we start again playing football.”

Too little too late.

It’s not the first time Klopp has seen the response from his side come too late to change the game and with his current squad, a weak squad full of weak players and weakened by injuries, he’ll probably see it a lot more.

The squad Klopp inherited, despite the amounts overpaid for some of the players, does not compare well at all to any of the other sides with top four pretensions.

Liverpool paid £35m for a player who remains their record signing, Andy Carroll. Brendan Rodgers sold him to his current club, West Ham, for under half that amount having made his mind up he wanted him gone before he had even had one training session with him. Carroll was probably sold for a price nearer his true worth but where does that leave Christian Benteke?

Rodgers paid £32.5m – close to the amount Liverpool paid for Carroll – to bring the Belgian forward to the club and so far this season it is difficult to see how he improves on Andy Carroll or what he offers that Carroll doesn’t. As it stands it would be best for both the player and the club if they parted company, even though that will almost certainly mean a huge financial loss for Liverpool.

Benteke did score both the winners in Liverpool’s last two wins and there is time, of course, for him to get better, to improve his all round game and his contribution for the whole of the 90 minutes, but the slow progress he is making suggests the time he has won’t be enough.

Benteke wasn’t the only Reds player worthy of criticism today but few of those on the pitch should be first choice at a club like Liverpool anyway. Klopp needs new blood.

In the meantime he will keep working with what he has in the hope he can squeeze enough out of them to get through the season, but today they did far more than disappoint him.

“It’s no day for being disappointed,” he said, “It’s a day for being angry – with ourselves.”

There were times when Liverpool could have got back into it but with just two shots on target all game the West Ham keeper will struggle to think of an easier game he’s had.

The Reds had 65% possession but no clue what to do with it. It is another percentage, however, that Klopp was perhaps most cross about – he was angry because his side didn’t put 100% into it.

“In each moment in this game we could have come back but we didn’t. We were always a little bit,” he said.

“Who wants to see 90 percent? You cannot win a football game with 90 percent, even 95, nobody wants to see this. You have to do everything.

“We lost the decisive moments twice. That can happen, I don’t like it, but it can happen. But then you have to use your chance more, with more will than we did today.

Liverpool had a penalty appeal turned down but, like the foul on Moreno, right or wrong, it won’t be something Klopp dwells on: “Maybe, I don’t know if was a penalty I didn’t see well enough in the situation with handball and things like this, but, again: 2-0.

“That’s what we saw, it’s deserved,” he said.

A string of players were missing for Liverpool which limited the ability of Klopp to try something different or freshen things up. But even when those players are fit, few of them are exactly of the standard that Liverpool should be relying on if they are serious about regular Champions League football and title challenges. Liverpool, of course, is a club that should be serious about both – very serious.

The transfer window is now open and at a club that has signed some of its best players in January – Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho – Klopp will expect the board to do what needs to be done to deliver some targets. This season may well be write-off given the fact the club chose to start it with a manager who had long since peaked but that’s no reason to wait until the summer.

There’s money in the bank – or should be – and an obvious need to do something useful with it. If Ian Ayre and his colleagues fail to do so they can expect Klopp’s anger – and that of the fans – to turn to them.

As Klopp says – who wants to see 90 percent?

The time for being disappointed has long since passed.