Liverpool goalkeeping legend Bruce Grobbelaar insists Brendan Rodgers’ faith in Simon Mignolet, not the sale of Luis Suarez, is at the heart of the club’s problems this season.
Mignolet, 26, joined Liverpool in June 2013 for around £9 million after three successful Premier League seasons at Sunderland, replacing long-time starter Pepe Reina between the posts.
The club went on to achieve a remarkable second-place finish, but conceded 50 goals in doing so, with champions Manchester City letting in only 37, and third-place Chelsea just 27.
Those defensive woes have continued this season, with 18 goals conceded in the first 12 league games, and Grobbelaar believes the Belgian international is the issue.
“Any team that lets in 50 goals should never be in second position in the first place. That was masked and brushed over by the brilliance of Suarez and [Daniel] Sturridge scoring so many goals,” he told BBC Sport.
“You've got to shore up at the back, get yourself someone in goal that can only let in 30 goals a season, or less than 30 goals a season.”
Managed Rodgers named Mignolet among the top-flight’s best keepers upon bringing him to Anfield, but Grobbelaar, who won six titles, three FA Cups, three League Cups and one European Cup during his 13 seasons at the club, claims he himself has harboured long-running concerns over his abilities.
“I've always said that. I've said that he doesn't command his area,” the Zimbabwean said.
“Yes, he’s a great shot-stopper, but I was slaughtered last year by Liverpool fans for being too harsh on him – I’m not being too harsh on him, not at all.
“I have likened to him worse than Dracula, because at least Dracula comes out of his coffin now and then. He seems to stay on his line and that's it.
“That whole area - not the six-yard area, the 18-yard area - is the goalkeeper's, and in this day and age, in modern goalkeeping, if you come out and catch the ball and you get smacked you are going to get the foul.
“It's not rocket science, and he is a big lad. As soon as that ball is in the air - get out, come for it.
“You're going to get a lot more fouls for you and less are going to go in the back of the net.”
It appears as though Rodgers might now share Grobbelaar’s concerns, with Liverpool linked to a host of keepers in the transfer market in recent months, including Victor Valdes, Petr Cech, Iker Casillas, Asmir Begovic, Kiko Casilla, Neto, Timo Horn and Mattia Perin.