David De Gea's difficult experience provides a template for under-fire Loris Karius

It's easy to forget the criticism Man United's No 1 endured when he first arrived

BY Raf Diallo 18:06 Monday 12 December 2016, 18:06 12 Dec 2016

Loris Karius. Picture by Dave Howarth PA Archive/PA Images

There's no getting away from the fact that Loris Karius had a significant role in Liverpool dropping points in the Premier League over the last two games.

Firstly, he did not cover himself in glory when the Reds lost 4-3 at Bournemouth from what had seemed like a comfortable winning position.

And he was criticised for failing to keep out Dimitri Payet's free-kick as West Ham earned a 2-2 draw at Anfield exactly one week later on Sunday.

Naturally, the 23-year-old German summer signing from Mainz is in the eye of the storm when it comes to criticism from pundits, most notably from the Neville brothers - even if his manager Jurgen Klopp and former Ireland defender Paddy Mulligan feel Gary Neville, in particular, might not be so well-placed to be overly-critical given his chastening experience as manager of Valencia.

Karius is in arguably the most unenviable position on the pitch and is playing for one of the world's biggest clubs, so the glare of a magnifying class from critics and fans comes with the territory.

But let's not forget that he is just 23 and that maturity in his position does not normally arrive at such an early age.

There is no point writing him off - which is not what pundits are necessarily doing even if the criticism is vociferous.

Indeed, there is another example in the Premier League of a goalkeeper that endured mounting criticism and scrutiny as a young signing from abroad before coming good and becoming recognised as one of the best in the world in his position.

That particular player was regarded as "talented but error-prone" in a news piece in 2012. 

No drum roll required but the keeper in question is David De Gea, who was on the end of intense criticism after some inconsistent early performances for Manchester United.

Of particular note was a goal by then West Brom striker Shane Long that lacked power but still managed to beat De Gea, kicking off some of the criticism that would continue after every subsequent mistake.

Alan Hansen, who was arguably the most high profile football pundit in English football prior to Neville's ascent, commented that after two mistakes in two games, "United now find themselves bereft of confidence in their goalkeeper."

He had arrived from boyhood club Atletico Madrid as a skinny 20-year-old and immediately succeeded the legendary Edwin Van der Sar.

As De Gea told Inside United in 2013 when he had begun to prove his worth, in his opinion critics were failing to take account of the context - that of a young player moving to a foreign country and adapting to a new environment at one of the world's most scrutinised clubs:

"If I am honest, yes (the criticism was unfair).

"I was very young and I had arrived at a new club from another country.

"I was learning a whole new language, I was adapting to a new style of football and new team-mates.

"That's a lot to take in and it's natural that it will take a little bit of time to settle.

"It wasn't easy hearing this criticism but I tried to use it to motivate me and make me stronger."

And given we brought up Hansen earlier, the former Liverpool defender also acknowledged that the Spaniard would need time to find his feet, remarking that, "De Gea would need four, five or six weeks to get used to the English game anyway. His adaptation would be much easier if Vidic and Ferdinand were there to help."

The latter point is relevant to Karius who has little protection in front of him. Whether it's at set pieces or when opposition teams find a way to get behind the Liverpool press, the back-four in front of him is error prone.

Joel Matip's mistake let in Michail Antonio for West Ham's second goal on Sunday for example, leaving Karius exposed.

Dejan Lovren, who has improved albeit from a low base, is also not the type of protection a young goalkeeper adapting to a new league needs. 

In time, if his confidence is not completely shot, Karius will improve as many players of his age do and like De Gea had under Alex Ferguson, has the backing of his own manager, who came out swinging with a stinging rebuke for Gary Neville.

For De Gea, the critics fueled his desire to shut them up through peerless performances and that is Liverpool's hope for their own young keeper.


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