Is Reina done at Liverpool?
In terms of “new management”, most clubs realize that the squad is likely to change, perhaps even dramatically. It’s usually a welcome change because most fans realize that it’s going to be “out with the old and in with the news”. But there are exceptions. For anybody who doesn’t want a certain player to leave, but that the new manager deems to be “surplus to requirements”, it will be quite heartbreaking to watch what could be one of your favorite players be either benched or forced out of the squad entirely.
One such player in recent years is Pepe Reina.
After signing him in the season following Liverpool’s memorable fifth European Cup win (2005-2006), Rafa Benitez described Reina as “the best goalkeeper in Spain”, which seemed to be true as he had been playing for Barcelona (even since his days as a Youth Team player) and later, Villareal. He had even won the UEFA Intertoto Cup for two seasons running, both in 2003 and 2004 with Villareal. He certainly had proven himself in European competition as well as the Spanish league, La Liga.
Rafa Benitez started using him right away, on a regular basis. He would become Liverpool’s pair of “safe hands” until Rafa left the club in 2010. The legendary Jerzy Dudek left for Real Madrid in 2007 and Pepe Reina was the goalkeeper who would replace him in the first team permanently, which was no easy task.
How do you follow a Champions League winner? With a World Cup winner, I guess! Actually, Reina hadn’t won the World Cup with Spain until 2010, but nonetheless, Reina seemed to be the only person who could fill Dudek’s empty goal permanently after he had left for Madrid.
On a personal level, I love Reina. He took me by surprise, I must say. One season, I was declaring Jerzy Dudek to be the best goalkeeper in the world after his heroics in the Champions League Final in 2005.
The next season, Rafa Benitez had bought Reina and although I was full of sentiments like “I hope Reina will only be a substitute, Dudek deserves to be the number 1 ‘keeper”, he began to grow on me as he was used more and more and eventually, Dudek was just a happy memory from 2005 as he had been REPLACED not only in the team, but as my favorite goalie!
If I could whisper into Brendan Rodgers ear and say “play Reina”, I would. Unfortunately, when Simon Mignolet arrived at Liverpool after having 3 successful Premier League seasons with Sunderland, Rodgers had made a signing which he fully intended to use, much like Benitez intended to use Reina, even though he already had a Champions League Winner in his squad for goalkeeping.
Simon Mignolet was signed in 2013 and the Belgian was put right “between the sticks”, instantly by Rodgers. When new players get signed they of course expect to be played right away. It doesn’t always happen. Some new signings get benched until the manager is ready to let them prove what they can do in the first team. But Rodgers was so certain he wanted this guy that poor old Pepe had been replaced as soon as Mignolet got to Liverpool.
In some clubs, the person who gets replaced might at least “ride the bench” (become a substitute instead of a first team starter) for a while but Brendan Rodgers had made it abundantly clear that Benitez’s signing was no longer a part of the squad. Brad Jones even managed to get the one and only substitute goalkeeper position available so it wasn’t a case of simply waiting for Mignolet to possibly be injured or removed from the side due to poor performance, since the Australian (Jones) would be first choice to replace him if that ever occurred.
Reina had no choice but to accept this, keep on turning up for training even though he knew he wouldn’t be playing in any of the first team games coming up and just wait until his contract expired to find himself a new club. However, when Rafa Benitez had been announced as the new Napoli manager, Reina chose the loan offer he was made by his former manager and off he went to Italy. Reina and Benitez made a great Spanish partnership once more and eventually went on to win the “COPA ITALIA”, one of the most prestigious trophies in Italy.
Liverpool’s last season went better than expected, it’s safe to say… we almost won the league! It even went down to the final day of the season where if we won against Newcastle (which we did) and West Ham beat Manchester City, Liverpool would have won the league by a single point.
Unfortunately though, West Ham could not defeat Man City (even with ex-Liverpool players in the side like Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole) and they ended up stealing the Premier League title from Liverpool.
If we had won the league, I think far less people would now be looking at defensive errors and players which should now be replaced due to them “probably costing us the title” as fans say. In fact, Liverpool may have had a partnership (the “SAS”, Suarez and Sturridge) who scored 52 goals between the two of them. But when we look at “goals conceded” -the team looks rather weak. Liverpool conceded more than 50 goals.
That considered, should Liverpool replace their goalkeeper? Simon Mignolet was part of that “weak” defense which allowed over fifty goals to be scored against us.
So BR does have a serious choice to make (regarding his goalkeeper)– buy a new Goalkeeper to replace Mignolet? (I heard Micheal Vorm was on our transfer target list as the only potential new goalkeeper to sign for Liverpool). Does Rodgers chance using Brad Jones as a first team regular (despite him being incredibly inexperienced), or does he bring back the newly crowned “Copa Italia Winner” Pepe Reina, as his first choice goalkeeper for the new season? Could Reina be what is needed to stop such a large amount of goals being conceded again next season?
If he still feels Reina is not what he wanted for his squad, you’ll see Mignolet starting again next season. Keep your eye on the first name of the Liverpool starting 11 team lineup for the first official games of the new season. We will find out if Reina is done at Liverpool or will he be making a surprise comeback to strengthen our defense?
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red. I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.