The Liverpool goalkeeper believes Jürgen Klopp’s team responded well to the Premier League draw at Watford when claiming a valuable win at Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off first leg on Tuesday. The 29-year-old, who saved a first-half penalty in Germany and produced a fine save to deny Serge Gnabry, admits Liverpool “can only play one way and that is forward” under Klopp. But while the Liverpool manager attracted criticism for the familiar failings that cost his team points at Vicarage Road, Mignolet insists it is the players’ responsibility to improve.
In an impassioned defence of the Liverpool dressing room, the Belgium international claimed that responsibility will be taken and a successful campaign beckons.
Mignolet said: “We can only play one way and that is forward. We know that we can always score. We have so much style up front. We took a lot of steps defensively against Hoffenheim. We were solid, set pieces we defended well too and that is what we have to learn. We know what we have to improve after Watford and we have a good dressing room that will deal with that.”
“When you are in the spotlight and play at the highest level in the Premier League and Champions League there are always going to be things thrown at you. You have to be strong enough characters to deal with that. We just try to improve in training and create the best team spirit to deal with everything.
“I think we have so much quality inside the team and with what we learned in the last ten games of last season we can definitely be successful. We have to look in the mirror and say it is only us who can change it. We know how long we had to fight to get that fourth place in the Premier League and we didn’t want to throw it away by coming to Hoffenheim and spoiling the chance.”
For all the scrutiny on Liverpool’s defending, the club’s first choice goalkeeper insists it would be self-defeating to curb the attacking quality that Klopp has developed.
Mignolet explained: “Our natural game will be attacking and we know we have to fill that in with a real defensive spirit. We know that is where we have to improve. We are not blind. Everybody knows it in the dressing room, but there is no point throwing everything away. You cannot change a natural footballing side that goes forward but we know we have to mix that with a good defensive, aggressive spirit to make sure they don’t score the goals. But we know we have so much talent in the squad that we have to use it.”
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