John McCormick‘s adopted home city, Liverpool, is now also Simon Mignolet’s. That won’t make John switch allegiance to the Scousers. But he understands why the Belgian was attracted by the lure of Anfield, faded as its glory may be …
I can see where people are coming from when they damn Ming with faint praise for his lack of loyalty to Sunderland and, yes, perhaps it’s time to move on. However, those of you who have looked at my picture at the top of this page will realise I’m reading a 50-year-old promotion season souvenir brochure, and expecting someone who’ll do that to move on quickly is expecting too much.
In my defence, I do think a just a quick trip in support of Ming is in order.
I’ll start by asking you to consider his progress at the club. He arrived some three years ago and impressed from the start, with fine displays against Man City and Arsenal.
That wasn’t enough to keep him in the team, however, and he was replaced by Craig Gordon who resumed the first team slot after recovery from a quite nasty injury that required surgery. Gordon was good enough to make the best Premiership save ever but another injury (caused, in my eyes, by some brutal treatment at the hands of one of the league’s more robust clubs) required more surgery, opening the door for Ming to step in once again.
And there Ming would probably have stayed had the goalkeeper’s curse struck twice more. The first time Ming himself was the victim. A collision with a hefty player (some others might describe it as another episode of brutal treatment) caused a facial injury and Kieren Westwood stepped up. Westwood was doing well but Ming’s return to fitness coincided with illness and the Irish keeper lost his place.
Birflatt Boy saw things differently: see also End the Mignolet love-in. He’s Liverpool’s now, our history
Since then Ming hasn’t looked back. He has been one of the stars in a season where little shone. His 11 clean sheets helped us to stay up and it’s worth noting that in one of them, against our arch rivals he had to risk his face again and then watch as the opposing keeper converted an innocuous fall into a season-ending injury.
In three short seasons Ming has seen a lot of keepers lose their positions. He has also seen the backs of two managers, he was now on his third, with each manager having his own strategies and his own preferred players. Good form has ensured Ming’s place but, given the injuries he’s seen and the comings and goings within the club even he couldn’t consider his future secure.
And now Liverpool have come calling.
They aren’t the club they were, or even the club their fans think they are, but they probably will be a better prospect than us for the next couple of seasons. If they also threw a better wage packet into the deal then so much the better for Ming. Given his circumstances he would have been a fool to turn them down, and he’s no fool.