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Karius & Klopp: Why Liverpool manager won't replace his No1 despite Kiev calamity

COMMENT: They will be merciless. Up and down the country. Those first few months of next season. The fans will be merciless. Even at home. At Anfield. There'll be no respite from the away end. Loris Karius will have to run the gauntlet.

Everytime he aims to roll or throw the ball to a teammate, the ironic cheers will belt out. Every speculative long range shot he saves, the reaction will be the same. And there'll be laughter. The jeers. The wind-ups. They're one thing. But the sound of thousands upon thousands of fans chuckling? Making Karius a figure of fun? Oh yeah, it's going to be gauntlet.

This isn't about how supporters should behave. This is about what lies in wait for Karius next season. This is about will happen. And what also will happen is the unwavering support Karius will receive from his manager, Jurgen Klopp.

Of course, on what should happen we all have our opinion. £60-odd million will get Klopp Alisson Becker from AS Roma. They're now saying £30m for Gigio Donnarumma, AC Milan's wantaway keeper. And there will be a change at Anfield, with Simon Mignolet making it clear he will leave this summer after his demotion.

But Klopp will stand by Karius. The 24 year-old is his No1, as he ruthlessly made clear to Mignolet midseason. As soon as Karius had found his groove, all that devotion to rotations, of keeping his shot-stoppers on their toes, that went out the window. Mignolet was axed from both domestic and European competition and Karius named by Klopp as "my No1".

And this is how it'll stay come preseason. Yes, Mignolet's replacement will be identified and signed. But at best he'll arrive to compete with Karius - not to replace him.

We've seen this movie before. The difference between Kiev and previous blunders was the enormity of the game. We all remember that goal kick at Anfield last season against Sunderland. 'Worst ever', it was dubbed as the German was battling another form slump.

But that's why Klopp will continue to support Karius. He knows his goalkeeper has suffered previous setbacks - and of similar humiliation - and found a way to fight back. It just isn't in the manager's nature to write one of his players off.

Just consider Klopp's words going into the Champions League final. It's been a constant criticism from the manager about the demand for new faces. For constant change. Ahead of meeting Real Madrid, he was convinced he'd changed supporters' attitudes: “Yeah, I love that. It is great and a lot of things happened since I came in, but the biggest was how the people changed in case of how much they like their actual team.

“It is not long ago a lot of people talk about having another player in their line-up, 'If we had (this player), if we had (that player)'."

That is Klopp's approach. He never goes for the quick fix. Before anything else, he supports those he has.

He can be ruthless, sure. Just ask Mamadou Sakho. But that's only with those who slight him. Karius and Klopp have a good relationship. They like eachother. And the manager will be convinced his goalkeeper can fight his way through this latest setback.

Christian Heidel, Schalke's outspoken GM, worked with both men at Mainz and you can bet his words will be what's bouncing between Klopp's ears today.

"I feel sorry for Loris, who is an outstanding goalkeeper," says Heidel. "He's actually the calmest I've ever found.

"He has to work his way through this. But he has the courage to do so - and he will."

That Mainz mentality, however, wasn't so common across German football in the aftermath. As much as Karius is being hammered in England, they're also taking aim in the homeland.

"An evening like this can destroy a career, you need time to process it, as a keeper it was cruel to look at," so said Oliver Kahn, the former Germany and Bayern Munich keeper.

"From now on it does not matter anymore if he plays well, and he gets to hear: 'Yes, today you were good, but do you remember what happened in the final?'"

From Lothar Matthaus, it was worse.

"The worst goalkeeping performance in the last 20-30 years," declared the former Germany and Bayern captain. "He's not a world class goalkeeper, because he makes these mistakes in general again and again."

And beyond the hyperbole, Matthaus nails it. Karius isn't world class - and Klopp knows this. At 24 and at this stage in his career, there is always a mistake in him. A gaffe is inevitably just around the corner.

But this is what Klopp has invested in. He believes - and continues to do so - that Karius doesn't need to be world class. Not at 24. He'll stand by him. And as Heidel stated, Karius - who gets around Liverpool with a personalised 'LK' Merc - has the mentality to shake Saturday night off.

No matter the opinion of the Boot Room, the press or even the Kop, the manager won't be influenced. His way has worked. It took Liverpool to the summit, he'll argue.

Karius will stay. He'll keep improving. And he'll remain their No1. It's the Klopp Way.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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