English Premiership

Rodgers backing Mignolet

2014-11-29 07:46
Simon Mignolet (Supplied)
Simon Mignolet (Supplied)

London - Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has the mental strength to cope with the criticism of his recent struggles.

Mignolet has been criticised for lacking a commanding presence in his penalty area and for his poor distribution, while the Belgium international's mistake for the first Ludogorets goal in Wednesday's 2-2 draw in the Champions League only intensified calls for him to be replaced.

The former Sunderland star has kept just two clean sheets in his last 24 appearances for Liverpool, sparking reports that Rodgers might consider replacing him with reserve keeper Brad Jones or make a move for Real Madrid veteran Iker Casillas in the January transfer window.

But the Liverpool manager backed the $15 million-rated goalkeeper and insisted he would rediscover his form.

"It is never easy. However, it (criticism) comes. Deserved or not, you won't like it but he is fine. I had a good chat with Simon today," Rodgers said on Friday.

"The club paid a lot of money for Simon to come in and he has saved us in games in my time here.

"His performance is like the team; we all need to be better collectively.

"We are losing games and not playing so well so it (criticism) happens and the focus on you at a club like Liverpool is magnified.

"He is strong enough. For us you have to embrace it, you have to be able to cope with the spotlight whether it is good or bad because it is always going to be there."

Mignolet can expect to be tested against Stoke at Anfield on Saturday as Liverpool look to end a run of three successive league defeats which has dropped them to 12th in the Premier League table.

That dismal run has left Rodgers also under pressure and he is second favourite to be the next top-flight manager sacked.

However, the former Swansea boss is happy to absorb that burden in order to deflect it from his players.

"They (bookmakers) obviously expect me to lose my job," Rodgers added.

"It is football. A few months ago I was manager of the year and now I am favourite to get the sack.

"In football it is very short-termism thinking but all you can do is focus on the immediate job and focus on what you can control.

"I just want them to concentrate on the football and performance level. It is my responsibility to take that (pressure) from the players."

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