Is Achterberg To Blame For Liverpool’s Goalkeeping Crisis?

Up until a few weeks ago if you had asked a lot of Liverpool fans who John Achterberg was, few would have been able to tell you, and those who knew his name, might have been hard pushed to tell you his role within Jürgen Klopp’s backroom staff.

John Achterberg, for those of you who don’t know him is Liverpool’s goal keeping coach. He is the man in charge of training the first team goalkeepers at Liverpool, and for some he is the man who is at fault for the way Liverpool’s goalkeepers are currently performing.

Born in Utrecht in 1971, the retired Dutch goalkeeper played for NAC Breda and FC Eindhoven before joining Tranmere Rovers in 1998. He played with them for 8 years before making 351 appearances before retiring from football in 2009. 

He initially joined Liverpool in 2009 as the goalkeeping coach for the reserve and academy teams before being promoted to the first team in 2011 replacing Xavi Valero. 

With the recent poor performances of current Liverpool number 1, Achterberg has been thrown in to the spotlight. 

Ex goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar has blamed the poor performances of not only Karius but also Simon Mignolet down to the coaching they’re receiving under Achterberg.

Since he stepped up to replace Valero as goalkeeper coach, it can be argued that the 3 keepers he has worked with regressed under his tutelage. Pepe Reina, Mignolet and Karius. 

Reina will be fondly remembered by some as Liverpool’s greatest goalkeeper in the last 20 years. In his last season at Liverpool Reina’s stats read something like this, average saves per game 1.35, average saves per goal 1.27, average goals conceded 1.10. 

In the season before Reina’s average saves per game was 2.32, average goals conceded 1.02 and average saves per goal was 2.25 – all before Achterberg took over.

Mignolet was signed by Brendan Rodgers and immediately replaced the popular Reina as Liverpool’s number one goalkeeper. 

In his first season at Anfield Mignelot’s average saves per game was 1.97, average goals conceded 1.32 and average save per goal was 1.70, compare that to last season and his average saves per goal was 1.53, average goals conceded 1.24 and average save per goal was 1.27. 

While it’s unfair to judge Karius just yet as he’s only had 6 months under the watful eye of Achterberg his stats for last season reads something like this, average saves per game was 2.53, average goals conceded 1.24 and average saves per goal 2.10. 

The title of this piece is ‘Is Achterberg To Blame For Liverpool’s Goalkeeping Crisis’ and after going through all those stats I have to believe he is. I can’t say what he does or doesn’t do at training with the goalkeepers as I haven’t witnessed a training session. 

I can’t tell what he’s doing right or wrong or what he’s concentrating on or not concentrating on, but as a former goalkeeper I can see that both Mignolet and Karius are getting even the basic stuff wrong. 

If Achterberg was a manager with the stats I listed above, he would have got the sack a long long time ago. 

Maybe it’s time for Jürgen Klopp to cut all ties with the Dutchman and move for a, won’t say experienced goalkeeping coach but one that inspires more confidence in the goalkeepers at the club, otherwise the way the goalkeepers are going they’re stats are going to get worse and worse and fans can’t blame them solely for their performances, the coach at some stage has to step up and take the blame because obviously his methods aren’t working. 

Written By @TheMoanyOne 

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