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.
Enter the great Salut! Sunderland Two Million hits competition. We’re 13,000 short of the 2m milestone at the time of writing and it’s prize time. Read about the top incentive – £200 towards a holiday from Sunderland-based Hays Travel at https://safc.blog/2013/06/attention-safc-newcastle-middlesbrough-even-scarborough-supporters-2m-hits-competition-prize-announced/ BUT POST YOUR ENTRY ONLY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION AT https://safc.blog/2013/06/salut-sunderlands-two-million-hit-party-even-newcastle-are-invited/
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.
… with due acknowledgement to SunderlandStudios at YouTube