By Leanne Prescott
Twitter – @_lfcleanne
In an age where technology has become an increasingly important part of our everyday lives, its role within sport is incredibly influential. Where players once focused solely on making an impact on the pitch, there’s now an equal expectation for them to reach out to their fans, engaging with those who hold them so dear.
It’s become an essential cog within the modern game, enabling young and foreign fans alike to immerse themselves in the culture of their respective sides, connecting people under the same notion of support. 2013 would see Cristiano Ronaldo become the first athlete to reach 100 million Facebook followers while Jesse Lingard’s recent transition into further social media channels has been used to promote a new clothing business. Twitter and YouTube have even provided a platform to analyse, review and rewatch crucial aspects of player performances.
But it can also be a black hole, a recipe for disaster that lays foundations to antagonise individuals, stripping them of their privacy and neglecting them of any decency amid high-profile mistakes.
Goalkeeper’s are open to more scrutiny than most; if a central midfielder makes a mistake, there’s three, four, five players to mop up behind him before the opponent can get a shot off at goal. As the last line of defence, one little mistake can deliver the knockout blow.
It’s unlikely that Loris Karius will ever be able to detach himself from a sobering night in Kiev last year, with two high-profile mistakes handing Real Madrid another Champions League trophy. What ensued was a shockwave of abuse, buoyed by social media scrutiny that left the German in an endless loop of insecurity.
With scrutiny comes the need for mental fortitude. Coping in the face of adversity is difficult; you’ve got to silence the mindset of disgruntled fans as well as your own, that voice inside your head that tells you another slip is just around the corner.
Further mistakes in pre-season against Tranmere Rovers and Chester City would compound Karius’ misery, the latter of which saw him fumble the ball straight into his own net.
From then it appeared inconceivable that this player, a former Manchester City youth player who had been so impressive for FSV Mainz 05, would ever reaffirm his place at Anfield.
Careers hinge on moments; a moment of pure ecstasy can provide that lift-off moment or endear you to the fans for life as in Divock Origi’s case, but it can stunt a career just as fast.
A two-year loan spell at Besiktas was supposed to provide a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and become a cult hero among a new set of welcoming fans who hadn’t carried the weight of heartbreak felt in Kiev.
The reality has been somewhat different, with just six clean sheets in 27 games attributed to a noticeable lack of confidence continuing to overshadow what once looked a promising young ‘keeper.
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Football is a game of mindsets – ‘you can do it’ or ‘you’re going to mess up’ – and the moment those negative instances take over, all confidence can be lost.
Bouncing back from high-profile errors has only become harder within the media spotlight and an inability to do so can plight even the most promising of players.
Subject to jeering from his own supporters alongside a public damning from manager Senol Gunes after failing to make a simple save for Omer Ali Sahiner’s equaliser in Bestikas’ 3-2 win over Konyaspor, the 25-year-old remains desperately short of confidence.
Second-guessing, indecision, worry – all prevalent within the back of his mind with a desperate hope that he won’t be handed a similar fate the next time he takes to the field.
Karius’ struggles to recover from that night in Kiev represents a contrasting path to Alisson, who’s shown the mental fortitude required of a top-class goalkeeper, putting his Leicester error behind him to underpin Liverpool’s current title-challenge with 17 clean sheets.
Indeed, there will be little worry over Alisson’s ability to move on from a mistake at Craven Cottage while Karius’ future remains distinctly unclear; continuous errors appear to be picking away at his core and with no sign that a positive return to Merseyside is on the cards alongside ongoing disputes with Besiktas fans and manage alike, the suggestion is he’ll be on the move again soon.
Wherever he ends up, any hopes of salvation rest on blocking out the shackles of social media and returning to the very basics of football, developing a mental fortitude that’s become paramount in a game increasingly dominated by the growing age of the internet.
By Leanne Prescott
Twitter – @_lfcleanne