Search icon


11th Apr 2018

Dejan Lovren told Liverpool exactly what they needed to hear at half-time of Man City match

He played very well in both games against City

Matthew Gault

Stirring stuff.

Dejan Lovren has been through the wringer as a Liverpool player. The Croatian, signed to much fanfare in 2014 following an impressive spell at Southampton, has looked at times like a man comically out of his depth in the red of Liverpool.

Lovren’s performances have often attracted ridicule, with the crushing nadir of his hopelessly inept half-hour horror-show against Spurs in October prompting The Guardian’s Barney Ronay to brilliantly describe it as ‘the art of un-defending.’

The 28-year-old exited the Wembley stage that afternoon a forlorn, defeated man. At that point it was even reasonable to predict that his days as a Liverpool defender were numbered.

But Lovren has endured, defiantly rising from the depths to become a defensive force once again. Signing Virgil van Dijk has helped. The imposing Dutchman has certainly introduced a degree of control to Liverpool’s defending, but there is no doubt that Lovren has shone in recent weeks, particularly the two legs against Manchester City and the Merseyside derby on Saturday.

But Lovren, like most of his teammates, quivered nervously at the merciless City onslaught at the Etihad on Tuesday evening. City took two minutes to score and duly battered the Reds into submission for the rest of the first-half.

As the players trudged towards the tunnel at half-time, Liverpool looked beleaguered. They emerged in the second half, however, with renewed impetus and drive, stunning Pep Guardiola’s side with an equaliser through Mohamed Salah before Roberto Firmino finished them off.

There had clearly been a frank exchange of views in the away dressing room at the break. But, while most of us imagined a rousing, vein-popping, jaw-clenching, glasses-eschewing shout-fest from Jurgen Klopp, it appears that the new Lovren had a few things to say.

“To be honest I was shouting a bit at half-time,” Lovren said post-match. “I told the lads to wake up because it was not good enough and I said we were sitting too deep.

“Of course Klopp said ‘Yes you are sitting too deep because you are not pushing up’. He wanted me and Virg (Virgil van Dijk) to be more compact and push the team up, but it was quite difficult to push up when City had the ball.

“It was all positive, there was nothing negative, but I needed to remind the guys that we had 50 minutes to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League and we needed to give more.

“The first 10-15 minutes wasn’t good enough. When you see the second half, again they had a couple of chances but nothing too serious.”

It’s not unusual for players to step up and lift their teammates’ spirits, but it’s certainly difficult to imagine a post-Spurs Lovren delivering a few home truths.

But, yes, this is the regeneration of Lovren. Finally, with him and van Dijk, and the increasingly impressive Loris Karius between the posts, Liverpool have a solid defensive base.

For Liverpool fans, it’s a mighty relief. For Klopp, it’s vindication of his renewed belief in Lovren. For Lovren, it’s nice just to be bloody appreciated after one heck of a ride.