As Liverpool vultures circle, Simon Mignolet knows he’ll be remembered with affection

Sixer offers Mag builder a history lesson
Sixer says Mignolet will remain a hero in SAFC eyes

Is he off or isn’t he? We have had to endure speculation for a season or more that the lure of a bigger club – yes, there are a handful of them – would deprive us of Simon Mignolet’s services. It was perhaps inevitable that the flattering interest would eventually turn his head. We have to be adult about this: he is not a Sunderland supporter but a professional footballer who happens to be playing for us and must make the most of his abilities in what, even for keepers, is a short career. Thinking of Liverpool, even players who are Sunderland supporters and playing for SAFC are generally more attached to professional progression and self-interest than sentiment. Rather like most other people. Pete Sixsmith discusses the contribution to our cause Mignolet has made and for which, if go he must, he will always receive a warm welcome from the vast majority of Sunderland fans …

It looks very much as if our first choice goalkeeper will be leaving the Stadium of Light for Anfield if the many newspaper/internet articles are to be believed.


It does sound likely and the clubs appear to be negotiating a fee – we want £10m, Liverpool are prepared to pay £8m. What’s the betting it is an undisclosed fee that is declared when he becomes a Red.


I will be sad to see him go. M Salut and myself are both (lapsed) members of the goalkeepers’ union and we have both enjoyed watching him grow into a very, very good goalkeeper, with the potential to be an outstanding one.


My first view of him was three years ago in Hoffenheim, where he looked decent without being outstanding. On that journey we passed signs for his Belgian club St Truiden – more than once on the way back, if memory serves me right – and were tempted to go and look at the stadium, but the other passengers were saner than me and refused.


He was thrown in at the deep end as Craig Gordon was not fit and he did struggle at first. He was criticised for not building a good enough wall, thereby allowing Ryan Taylor to curl home the winning free kick for the Mags. He recovered from that and had a decent season – the odd mistake, a little bit of indecision and areas where his game could improve.


Improve it did. The arrival of better central defenders in Wes Brown and John O’Shea helped him and, although injury ruled him out for two months, he came back for that epic win over Manchester City and had a blinder.


He hasn’t missed a league game since then and I think that we saw him as another Monty, a keeper who would spend the bulk of his career with us and (hopefully) lead us to the heady heights of the top half of the table.


Alas, it was not to be. In his three years at Sunderland, he has had three managers, all with different outlooks and very different temperaments. Stability has been in short supply. That may well have influenced him to agitate for a move.


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It’s a well known fact that Belgians crave stability. They have political stability in that they had four years from 2007-11 without a government and the country seemed to run reasonably well. Their beer rarely alters – consistently excellent and their pommes frites are of a never changing high standard .


The Belgian character is phlegmatic rather than flamboyant. Hercule Poirot and Tintin, the boy detective rarely lose their cool and the songwriter Jacques Brel is as cool and relaxed as a man could be.


So, Simon departs for Liverpool, a club that is desperately hoping to get back into the upper echelons of the Premier League. Pepe Reina looks to be on his way to Catalonia so the goalkeeping vacancy is there to fill. He will follow in the footsteps of Tommy Lawrence, Ray Clemence, David James and, er, Bob Bolder as custodians of the Anfield goal.


It gives an opportunity for Keiren Westwood to seize the position. He did well enough a couple of years ago before the flu ruled him out of the City game and he has never looked out of place when he has played in the few cup ties that we have. Jordan Pickford also looks a promising player and did well at Alfreton last season.


The other transfer news has me a bit lost to be honest. There is talk of Sessegnon being away to France and other players moving on. The ones who have been lined up already by Di Canio and the new director of football, Roberto De Fanti, don’t appear on my radar at all. I know nothing of them, which means that I could be pleasantly surprised when I see them in August. On the other hand…………….


If Simon Mignolet does leave, I am sure it is with the best wishes of all true Sunderland fans. The penalty save at The Sports Direct Arena, the string of brave saves against Manchester City and the way that he kept us in the derby game in April, will live long in the memory. Thanks.

* With many thanks, also, from Monsieur Salut to John McCormick for his formidable shift as acting editor during my absence at a campsite on the Franco-Spanish border at Argeles.

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13 thoughts on “As Liverpool vultures circle, Simon Mignolet knows he’ll be remembered with affection”

  1. With the new Udinese business model we are supposed to be adopting – buy cheap, develop and then sell dear – the Mignolet situation will be the norm, so we had better get used to it.

    • I think the model we will be following will be a variant on the Udinese business model as ES is not in this for the money but to win things and create a long overdue successful football club.

      Sell when selling make sense but only to strengthen the team. Migs was not going to extend his contract and was after a bigger stage in lieu of the 2014 WC. The only way he would have stayed was if we could bring European football to the SoL, and we are still a bit away from that.

      Westwood is a worthy successor so no team weakening there. Every player has a price, better we sell now than he walks for free in 24 months.

      • I said in an earlier post that the Academy was a vanity project which should be scrapped. I based this on the cost and the quality and volume of its output (just Colback and Henderson in my view).

        Short is a businessman who would want to see a return on his investment or at the very least reduce this costly overhead ——so it is about money!!!

        Introducing a business model like that used at Udinese or Crewe model could be the Academy’s salvation providing there is a tighter financial framework (i.e Ryan Noble had value but was released for nowt!!)

        The killer of course is that the FA does not allow feeder clubs in England that’s why so many players go out on loan or why Man Utd has a feeder club in Belgium. If that rule were relaxed we could have picked up Darlington and its Arena and had competitive matches for our Academy lads.

        It will be interesting to see how this develops.

      • I agree with you, my point was that it is not a money making exercise per say. As a business man ES will want to see proper financial management and a return, either in cash or more hopefully players who can make the grade. Success on the pitch is the goal, but proper financial accountability will be the legacy for all future development of the Club.

  2. Sorry to see him go, he was a good servant and did his best for the Club. Regrettable that we are again selling our best even though it makes perfect business sense.

    Westwood is more than capable for the role so Migs departure is not damaging.

    Going to Liverpool though does show where we are in the PL pecking order whether we like it or not. Liverpool are themselves undergoing a rebuilding program but not on the same level as SAFC. Thatsthe level where we should have been if our previous Management appointments had worked to plan.

    Di Canio is our best option to get there now and the whole Club is undergoing a refreshing makeover or more apporopriately a Pheonix rising from the Bruce/ O’Neil ashes….lets hope it’s not a case of dust to dust ashes to ashes.

    Additionally I would like to Welcome back Joe Kinnear, North East football has not been the same since his untimely departure and I hope he is a successful in his second stint at the Cockney Retirement Home as he was in his first……watch the sparks fly…oh the joy!!!!!

    • Sorry to see Migs go — seems to have been a true gent.

      Hope he does really well.

      Talking of gentlemen I bet Simon Bird is reaching for his tin hat for Kinnear’s first press conference.

      “So Joe, how’s your relationship with Alan Pardew?”

      “Well Simon to use the words of me ole mucker John Embury ———!!!!!!!!”

  3. We’d get half the fee next year as he’d have a year left with no intentions of improving it. Add this to the fact that Westwood wouldn’t be here, and we’d end up with no profit as we’d need a replacement. We can spend the money on outfield players now.

    It is crap that we are selling our best players – again – but we have to let this go.

  4. Henderson ,Bent now Mignolet , my head says good business , my heart the opposite.Theres nothing like graphically showing where we are in the pecking order than something like this.Westwood is a fine keeper and deserves he’s chance but how will we ever progress if we sell all our best players? I wish him well anyway.On a brighter note can I be the first on this site to welcome Joe Kinnear back to Newcastle United in he’s role as director of football and hope that Dennis Wise isn’t far behind him!

    • I hear Liverpool could be loaning some of our top youngsters to Sunderland as part of this Mignolet deal, could be interesting for you lads???.

      • Hope so Tony, Sturridge and Hendo are still young in my book,surely next season with us would be of huge benefit to them!

    • When the deluded owner of Fatboy Direct was looking for a toy to buy, and stuck his pin in a map of the UK, thank god it landed on the Tyne and not the Wear. No matter how often Sunderland balls it up (and they do quite often) it seems that the great unwashed can balls it up even more. This has to be the most deluded and strangest appointment in the history of football. Fat Mike and his fat friend Joe. What a double (or treble act).

  5. As a Liverpool fan I was happy to see Henderson come to us and Mignolet will also be welcomed by the fans, Reina has gone past his best and did so 2 seasons ago. I have a few Mackem mates I work offshore with, they tell me he is class.

    As for Hendo he gets stick in the press but we do rate him highly, he will play for us for years to come. Good to see you lads in the PL next season, all the best with Di Canio, I see him doing very well………………….up the Mackems!!!

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