You’ll Never Walk Alone. Or so they say.
The image of a forlorn Loris Karius apologising to the Liverpool fans that had come down to Kiev was one of the striking moments post-game, but what was even more surprising was the lack of support from his team-mates.
Football, after all, is a team game and Liverpool’s season has ridden on synergy between the squad members. Sadly, it was the Real Madrid players who were first to console Karius. It speaks a lot.
The Champions League final was 0-0 at half-time, meandering along for the most part.
It was punctuated by two injuries, one more significant than the other. Sergio Ramos’s questionable intentions with Mohamed Salah are up for debate, but it lost Liverpool their best player.
They went rather flat after that, a consequence of their lack of squad depth. Aside from Dani Carvajal’s own misfortune, the first half wasn’t too inspiring.
But the second half made up for it with some Karius-centered drama.
A lack of concentration – he relaxed for a split second – and Liverpool were a goal down: but goalkeepers can’t relax ever. Not in a Champions League final stuck at 0-0. Not when your best attacker has a sling on his arm.
Karim Benzema’s opportunism was excellent, but it was the sort of goal that remains astounding. Rarely do you see such an opener in a final – it was a goalkeeping gaffe in its truest sense. Karius threw, Benzema stuck out a leg, and the ball rolled into the goal.
He couldn’t believe it, and neither could so many others. The goal jolted the game into a state of liveliness at the expense of Karius’ confidence.
From bad to worse
The German had made some good saves prior to this, but this goal was going to erase memories of those good moments.
He celebrated Mane’s equalizer as though it was redemption, even though it wasn’t really. He could do nothing for Bale’s thunder-strike, a goal that is worthy of losing to. The game was on the edge at 2-1 with Liverpool capable of countering once again to turn the game on its head.
Gareth Bale lined up a shot outside the box. It was a speculative strike, straight into the gloves of Karius. What should have been a regulation save was spilled into the net in disastrous fashion.
The footballing community erupted – schadenfreude bubbled over amongst the Manchester United and Everton fans, while Liverpool fans were left in their own disbelief.
At 3-1, Real Madrid were not going down. Game over.
You’ll never walk alone…
It may have been the worst goalkeeping displays in a final, or at least one of them.
It may be a 45 minutes of doom that will hang around his neck like an albatross. And it could be a definite end to his Liverpool career, and his hopes of being the No 1, and a memory that sticks against his name. But you can’t help but feel sorry for the German.
Sport is sport but it isn’t life. Liverpool have enthralled all this season despite their obvious fallacies, a lack of squad depth being the major one. And so they can be proud of their defeat in the final along with top four.
Jurgen Klopp may have lost another final, but he has them on the right path. What really sticks post-game is the shadow of Loris Karius, a man shattered by his letting down of his teammates, and by extension, his fans.
Or rather, his club’s fans. Social media is Karius’ graveyard now, more than anything, with plenty of sympathy, but some abuse too.
That the abuse stems from Liverpool supporters is painful to digest. Some fans always lack perspective, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find here. Your team lost a final. You’re unhappy with the goalkeeper, and rightly so, but some of that frustration is directed at the club’s goalkeeping options in the first place. And so you can criticise his performance, his mistakes, but there is an invisible line that shouldn’t be crossed.
To err is human
To err is to be human; we all make mistakes in life.
When sportspersons make mistakes, it’s blown out of proportion, dissected by thousands. It’s the downside of the fame and money, but even then goalkeepers have it worse.
They can have a good game, but one mistake can cost it all. Redemption is tough to find, for a goalkeeper’s standing is built over numerous games, rather than one. And here, his standing has been shattered.
What’s important is that he has the right people around him.
For this high-profile mistake could have long-term ramifications on his own morale, on his confidence. It’s difficult to trust himself again, and we’ve all been there before. Self-doubt and plunging confidence is not an unknown. Which is why you’re either sadistic or lying when you claim a lack of sympathy for Karius.
Our mistakes and poor judgement are handled on a small scale. But for Karius, he has to deal with the personal effects, as well as the backlash. It doesn’t matter that he’s earning a lot. Humans make mistakes, we do, Karius has, and there is common ground for understanding his psyche.
The minority wishing for bad things to happen to Karius and his family should be ignored, but while we can it would hardly help Karius. What’s vital is that he doesn’t spiral into depression: that he takes a good, long break to refresh and revitalise in the summer, and then considers his future when he returns.
More perspective, please
There has been some over-zealousness from fans, who are happy to occupy the moral high ground while they criticise their own players regularly.
And there have been some quick to make reference to Robert Enke: a comparison that should not be made. Enke committed suicide due to depression, and an inability to cope with the loss of his daughter. His suicide was tragic, and people should do better than to callously compare the two on account of both being German goalkeepers. Perspective, once again, is key: Karius just lost a game.
Maybe it has been overplayed and Liverpool fans were caught up in their own disappointment to notice Karius, but it was still a poor look. What’s more heartwarming is the response from the wider footballing community, with support pouring in from players and fans alike. It provides some positivity going forward.
Victory and defeat are two sides of the same coins, but rarely does it come at the expense of one man’s errors. It is why Karius has to remain mentally strong. With enough support around him and a long break, there is no reason why he cannot bounce back from this setback.
His future may seem bleak, but it is still bright. He won’t walk alone now.
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