How Was Their Season? No.1: Dejan Lovren

How Was Their Season? No.1: Dejan Lovren
May 23, 2017 Daniel Rhodes

By Simon Keating (TTT Subscriber SimonKlopp aka 1Hanmdd).

When I got the email from Chris asking me to write a piece for TTT about End of Season Player Reviews, I was absolutely chuffed and very surprised. Especially given the quality and standard of the contributors.

Then Chris told me the player whose season I was going to review was Dejan Lovren…

Now I am not as prolific or as articulate as some of the posters on TTT but I am sure those of you who can be bothered to read what I do post will know that Dejan Lovren is not exactly my favourite player. By some distance.

Before I get going, in doing some research for the piece (I can’t believe I wrote that, but I did… I did do some research! I feel like a proper writer and everything!), with Dejan in the side we have a 50% win rate.

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Just as a comparison Hyppia, Agger and Henchoz they are all up at 55%. Perhaps a bit unfair as they were all in probably better teams.

As we all know Dejan very recently signed a 4 year contract extension worth a reported £100k per week. That is, for those of you who can’t do simple sums… a total of £21,000,000. Which is pretty standard wages at the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd. At Liverpool, I believe Sturridge, Phil and Bobby are on more…or similar. I think Lallana may now be on something similar too.

We all want LFC to compete and players will only come to LFC if we offer ‘big money’. So we can’t complain about LFC wanting to pay the going rate for top quality players.

That I suppose is my problem with the Lovren contract. I just don’t believe he is top quality. I think he is at best mediocre (that’s me trying to be as generous as possible). He has improved significantly since Klopp has joined, I do accept that.

I know Chris stressed that my assessment of Dejan was to be for this season (2016/17), but I believe we do need some context. When he first joined LFC he was truly awful. I remember seeing him at home v West Brom in 2014. We won 2-1 but their goal was a penalty due to a reckless challenge from Lovren. To be fair to him, whilst it was a foul, if memory serves the foul took place just outside the box. He made several errors, poor positioning, poor tackles, poor passing, giving the ball away in and around our own box etc…

Also, we can all see (at least I can) that defensively we have been pretty average (again I am being kind). In 2014/15 we conceded 48, in 2015/16 we conceded 50, and this season we have conceded 42. An improvement so far, and our best defensive record in the league since Kenny’s last season of 2011/12 when we conceded 40.

Again for context, this season Chelsea have conceded 32, Spurs have conceded an astonishing 25, Man City who have spent millions and millions have conceded 39. (Man Utd have conceded only 29 but I am only interested in the top 5 clubs… miaoow…).

Obviously, defensively Lovren doesn’t do it all himself. He has to rely on his goalkeeper, his defensive partner and his full-backs… of course not forgetting the rest of the team. Cliché alert: Rush was always seen as our first line of defence. So it isn’t entirely Dejan’s fault. And I am not suggesting for a moment it is.

If we look at our defensive performances recently, we have seen something of an improvement. It should be noted the quality of the opposition hasn’t been the best, but we have not conceded a goal in May and in our last 7 games we conceded only 3, 1 at Stoke and 2 at home to Palace. Our scoring/chance creation seems to have (West Ham aside) diminished in that period too. Could this be the defence actually improving? Perhaps so. Certainly it is the most consistent and commanding I have seen Mignolet playing since he joined the club. However, I believe the opposition has been quite poor (Even Palace were quite poor and their goals, as per usual, were absolute gifts).

Lovren in the Palace game was very, very poor (as were most of the defence that day). In that game we were 1 up, not playing well… but comfortable, I am sure Palace hadn’t had a shot up until their goal (around the 40th minute) then Lovren finds himself out of position, wrong side etc… AGAIN.

I wrote after his contract extension he makes a ‘catastrophic error’ in every game. Now that was probably harsh. However, the Palace game was an error. I can think of one at Stoke recently, he sliced a clearance and Stoke nearly scored (it hit the side netting). So not every error is punished by goal. Against West Ham last week, we nearly concede from a corner that would have made it 1-1 just on half time… where the ball comes to back post and hits Lovren on the hip and it falls to the West Ham player. (As an aside Sturridge’s reaction to Dejan is hilarious… he is really remonstrating with him!).

I remember at Bournemouth (the most annoying result of the season), Dejan and Milner make a complete hash of some pretty basic passing which leads to a penalty (their first goal when 2 up and cruising). Losing possession carelessly and needlessly. Totally avoidable.

After checking the Premier League website, in terms of errors leading directly to goals (more research!) he is joint 3rd at the club… the same as Klavan, Mignolet and Matip!!! Also, out of 109 appearances Lovren has in the Premier league (including Southampton) he has had 36 clean sheets.

My assessment of Lovren’s season is about 5.5/10. He can play quite well. He obviously cares about the club. He’s big and strong. You can see it matters to him and he gives everything he has. But I just don’t believe he is good enough for a club who have the ambitions we have – Champions League and competing for trophies. As for our defence, he certainly isn’t on his own in that respect. Milner, Klavan, Karius (who having hardly played has made most errors that have led directly to a goal!) and even Matip, I would argue, still need to improve somewhat.

Something I did notice whilst doing my research (I love it!)… Lovren is a bit of a sick note. He missed 12 games in his first season (probably dropped for some of them!,) 14 in his second season and nine for this season.

If it was down to me, I would have sold Lovren but obviously with his new contract that won’t happen. But I think he should be at best, a 3rd choice centre half (a sort of upgrade on Klavan), but that means we have to buy another centre half… possibly another from Southampton?

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Comments (72)

  1. Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

    Can I just say, that is the best article I have ever seen on the TTT… 😉

  2. Chris Rowland 6 years ago

    And we’re off … we’ve asked our writers and contributors to assess the season each player has just had. We’re publishing roughly in the order they come back in (so well done Simon – and thanks!) – no other significance to the running order!

    We decided 4 was the lowest you could vote because – well because. We have a squad which just went up 4 places and got 16 more points than last season and qualified for the CL – there should be no ‘below 4s’ about that! 😉

    More coming day by day – keep watching and voting!

    EDIT – that’s the second time Simon’s been quick off the mark!

  3. Jonathan 6 years ago

    Nice piece Simon. I think Lovren and Matip have been pretty solid as a pair. The crowd at Anfield does not do Lovren any favours (as the more error-prone of the two). Stick with him and he’ll come good. Despite the van Dijk rumours, I don’t see us buying a central defender this summer unless Joe Gomez is sold. Klaven and Gomez are capable understudies. I gave him an 8 – it probably should have been a 7, but I think he needs encouragement.

    OH! And to the idea that “he has a catastrophic mistake in him” – many of the best central defenders have made catastrophic mistakes, but for some reason their fans don’t get so hung up about them… they don’t describe mistakes as “catastrophic” for starters.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks … I know all defenders make errors occasionally but I believe Lovren makes far too many. It seems to be on in every game. Not all lead to goals but all result in very good chances to the opposition.

      • Jonathan 6 years ago

        I know what you mean. This isn’t a comment directed at you or your article (which was fantastic), but I think it would help the players if our fans were a bit more measured. It’s difficult though – Liverpool fans are emotional folks – it’s probably why a lot of us connected with the club in the first place. But maybe we could be a bit more measured with criticism. Fine to get completely carried away on the positive side!

  4. Grover 6 years ago

    I like Lovren as he clearly loves playing for LFC, but I have thought for a long time that he can be too rash at times, particularly in games where there is something at stake. He showed it again on Sunday and I would defiiitely like to see us upgrade on him in the summer. I gave him a 5. Thanks for this Simon.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks. I agree he seems to like the club and I cannot fault his attitude.

  5. red mick 6 years ago

    Thank you Simon. Lovren is a player I just can’t make up my mind about. I sit there and often think he does some great things, is strong, committed etc. Then there is a mistake., sometimes costly. I was furious at him during the Palace game and for getting wrong side of Bamford for the penalty that wasn’t on Sunday. I think it’s often his slowness in reacting to emergencies in the area  that lets him down and his positional sense. Does it mean he hasn’t really got ‘a football brain’ ? I gave him a six.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Yeah I get that. I want to like him and want. Him to prove me wrong but I just can’t see it.

  6. simon.barrington 6 years ago

    I quite like DL, and certainly much more after that interview a few months ago which detailed the difficult upbringing/background that he has had to overcome to get where he has today. He’s got a lot of the “ugly” qualities that not enough of the rest of the squad possess.

    And is he getting better? Yes, clearly. But has he still got a “catastrophic error” in him? Hell yes (if only Palace had gone down – that would reduce next his season’s catastrophic error count by at least 2!).

    Looking at the CB position as a whole, I recall from some stats on here that DL + JM is actually a defensively sound CB partnership for us. However, the ongoing issue is that we don’t seem to be able to get them both out on the pitch consistently enough. For that reason CB seems to be one area where at least one external recruit would be needed this summer to firstly pressurise DL (and maybe JM too) for his place and secondly provide added squad depth for the extra games next season. Even if all our current CBs (DL, JM, Lucas, Klavan, Gomez) are guaranteed fit and on form (which will never happen), I would still suggest greater quality overall is required to retain top 4 (or better) and get a reasonable run in the CL. My personal guesstimate is that Lucas is going, Klavan should be 4th choice at best, and we cannot rely on Gomez next season to be anything more than a 4th choice CB. I suspect the top 3 positions for upgrade in the summer will be CB, LB and LW/LM, but I’m digressing…

    So yeah, after all that, a 6 from me.

  7. pdbo 6 years ago

    Gave him a 7. 100% fo effort and 70% for achievement.

    I think it is tough to be a CB in a team with JK’s tactical set up. Recent comments ref the importance that when they attempt an offensive move, players needing to ensure that “their backs” are covered, suggests a depth to his tactical direction that I haven’t always appreciated and one that the players are still real time learning in match play.

    If you think about other teams CB’s this season and who might be considered to have been outstanding – it’s worth then looking at that teams standard set-up.

  8. Mik D 6 years ago

    I’ve given Lovren a 6. Some games he looks totally dominant but I agree he has a ricket in him a bit too often. He is decent enough in terms of distribution and has reasonable pace for a CB but his anticipation and reading of the play is not quite at the level I would like from our 1st choice CB pairing. He often appears to be the first one to look flustered when the pressure is on too. He turns 28 in July so is in his prime whilst still young enough for improvement.

    As our 3rd choice CB I’d have few complaints but we need to sign a CB this summer that makes that possible.

  9. vinnylfc 6 years ago

    I voted 6, but would have gone for 6.5 if it was there!

    As others have said, you can clearly see that it matters to Dejan, but unfortunately, it matters so much that it seems to affect either his concentration or decision-making.

    Lovren is a player who can have 8/10 and even 9/10 performances on occasion, but also 4/10 & 5/10 performances.

    At centre back, you really just want a solid 7/10 every week.

    More than that, you need 7/10 for 90 minutes every week, and it is this consistency that Lovren is currently missing.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Agree with a lot of that… He just is so inconsistent it is infuriating!

  10. Jonathon Davies 6 years ago

    Nice research Simon, seems like you enjoyed writing that one.  Difficult to assess our centre backs: they haven’t been helped by our attacking system, attacking wing backs and lack of CDM.  Also no settled partnerships, a shaky goalkeeper (or two until recently).  Look how solid we have looked when Lucas came in at the end of the season, it cannot be easy for CB’s in our pressing formation.

    Overall, I think he deserves a 6.5, so I’ll round down to 6 as I think he can improve.

    • vinnylfc 6 years ago

      Overall, I think he deserves a 6.5, so I’ll round down to 6 as I think he can improve.

      Snap!

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed writing it. It will be interesting to see if Lovren (and Matip) can improve if they can play together for a while without injury etc…

  11. Tango 6 years ago

    A championship winning side needs consistency.  Lovren is not consistent.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Yeah..that is it…too inconsistent.

  12. jimbomac 6 years ago

    I always find a good way to assess how good a transfer has been is to look at it and ask yourself, would you pay the money for that player again if you could go back in a time machine, bearing in mind what they did for the team since signing? For example, people are questioning Henderson’s value because of his fitness. Would I spend £16m again (plus inflation – £25m??) to get 6 years of good performances in central and left midfield, with the player becoming captain and a positive influence? Yeh I think so. Would I spend £20m to get Lovren – its borderline, could the money have been better spent elsewhere – maybe, but there aren’t a lot of other centre back options around. I think I might roll the dice and try to invest in someone else though.

    There really aren’t many players in the squad who I wouldn’t want to sign again given the same scenario. Moreno is one, maybe Markovic but I feel its bad luck on his part that it didn’t work out. Its not like recent history where that list would include Balotelli, Lambert, Poulsen, Konchesky, Downing… I think I would even sign Sakho again if he leaves for a good fee this summer.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      I believe we need to upgrade and use Lovren as Klavan’s replacement. I.E. He is 3rd choice.

  13. OT 6 years ago

    I like Dejan Lovren.  I like his mentality, his leave it all out there attitude.  I think he gets the most out of what he has talent-wise.  I rated his season a 6.

    He is a limited player.  He plays in a system that highlights those limitations – and when that happens he often makes rash decisions, but his choices at that point are often lose/lose given his limitations.

    Ironically, he seems to best suited for and to play his best against the better teams where LFC are not stretched pressing forward trying to unlock a parked bus.  In part because pace or lack thereof is one of his limitations.

    I would much prefer he be the 3rd or better yet 4th choice at center back whom Klopp can choose to play when conditions dictate but as a rule can leave in reserve with a better option playing.

     

    • Greg 6 years ago

      I think he’s weak mentally. A player who will lapse into self-pity when the chips are down. More Martin Skrtel than Tommy Smith. Fine as a first change centre half until Gomez bulks up, but after that, see ya. Carried by Matip.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Yeah I agree with pretty much all of that… 6/10 is not good enough…not in such a crucial position.

  14. Jimmy Steepsteps 6 years ago

    As previous post states he does well he games where he is continually involved. Other games he suffers the ‘David James’ loss of concentration syndrome when having very little to do. His distribution is average at best and too often plays balls that land his team mate in a world of shit at times.

  15. rafawasthebosphorus 6 years ago

    It’s hard to judge the CBs in my view (and I know, I got Klavan!)

    The defense looked bad most of the season, but in Klopp’s style of play, there are a lot of CCCs given away. Add in a rotating keeper for a while, and injuries, and Lucas playing at CB etc. Tough to establish the partnership.

    I trust Klopp on CBs though: he played there and must have a decent judgment. If he’s back-up, I’m fine: for me, I’d like to see Lovren and Klavan backing up Matip +1.

    For this season, he’s a 6 for me. Fine, but we could (easily) do better

  16. Jeff 6 years ago

    Defense is a team effort. If you have watched solid defensive teams or great defensive teams, you will see that the pieces fit together. More particularly, you will find that the back 4 or back 3 and  the midfielders and forwards defend as a unit. The problem with Liverpool has been that Liverpool as a unit have been sub  par. Now, the fact that the defense is sub par does not mean and it of itself that the individual players are sub standard but it does mean that chances have to be made to the unit.

    Every great player I have ever seen from Cruyff onward looked better when paired with the right players around them – Johan Neekens. Lovren was a better player when paired with Matip. Therefore, at least to me a pairing of Matip and Lovren together is a solid pairing – not great but solid. Therefore, assuming that Sakho leaves Liverpool, it makes sense that Liverpool will be looking for a center back unless Klopp is comfortable with Lucas staying and filling in and young Gomez. Now, at least to me the question is do you look for a better center back and if you do look for a better center back, how much do you pay? Always remember that the pot available to Klopp does have limits and the more you spend on a center back, the less you have to spend elsewhere. Simply put, I suspect that Lovren is a player that Klopp can live with because it may well be that answer in the transfer market do not exist.

    I have seen rumors that Liverpool will sell Sakho and want 30 million for him and for the sake of argument I will accept this figure. Do you want to simply spend the 30 million on another center back? Do you want to spend more money say 20 million and bring in someone such as VVD. On the other hand, it may well be there is a prospect out there that Klopp rates and who would be a solid third back and Liverpool would have some money left to spend elsewhere. Now at least to me the interesting question is VVD at 50 million significantly better than Lovren? Would you look to Germany for players such as Ginter and Tah? Now, at least to me if you want to spend real money on a center back, the player who should be top of Liverpool’s wish list is Inigo Martinez who I believe is the best center back in Europe. Simply put, replacing Lovren is this is you wish is not a straight forward proposition. Furthermore, it is unclear to me that many of the names mentioned who Liverpool want are not significant upgrades to Lovren.

    Now, at least to me, if you want to get a better Lovren, I would look to holding midfielders and full backs. There are a number of holding midfielders who I think would come to Liverpool at a price that makes sense and a number of right backs who I think would come to Liverpool and be significant upgrades over Clyne, but left backs do post a problem. There are so darn few of them out there that at least to me are quality players which means that if I was Liverpool I would look and hard for a left back and here is where I would spend money because you need to.

    To me criticism of Lovren is a reflection of the quality of the players around him and not the lad himself. If you want another reason to keep him, the people who follow his brother Davor believe he will be the best player in recent times to come out of Croatia and having the older Lovren in Liverpool might be enough to persuade him to come to Liverpool. This being said, always remember that he is a young lad and will need time.

     

     

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks Jeff. I agree and I do say that the defence needs support from all the team but it will be interesting to see Lovren and Matip are Klopp’s pair for next season, a sustained run in the team may improve them both. I do hope so.

  17. Chief Rocka 6 years ago

    A harsh but fair assessment. I’ve given Lovren a 6. He has made some crazy errors this season. But it would be interesting see how well he plays with behind a defensive midfielder and with better full backs.

    Maybe it’s a sign of the madness that is the Premier League, a player who probably a third string CB is given a £100k a week contract.

    • Big Jim Cambo 6 years ago

      £100k a week contract

      Yes, madness, but that means I’m worth £10 a week now?

      Maybe.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks Chief. Take your point about fullbacks and a regular DM.

  18. Big Jim Cambo 6 years ago

    Are we being harsh on Lovren given that he didn’t have a natural left back next to him? That’s not a criticism of Milner (who we’ll discuss in due course), but just in terms of having a natural left footed player on his outside?

    I’ve not seen Lovren enough to fully judge, so some of you may have a better opinion than me.

    As for looking forward, if Gomez isn’t judged as being good enough (yet) maybe we need another option at CB (better than Klavan) so Lovren has to perform very well to be a regular?

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Take your point about Milner etc… And if we sign a ‘proper’ left back it may help Lovren. I still would prefer to see him as 3rd choice.

  19. DavidW 6 years ago

    Ok, I’ll speak up in Lovren’s defence (pun intended).

    On his arrival, after playing as the left sided centre back for most of his career he was often thrown in on the right side of a “Rodgers defence” – open, exposed, and with a midfield in front of him that gave the ball away in dangerous positions and didn’t have the legs to get back quickly once passed. At the point Klopp took over there was a player shell-shocked and bereft of confidence.

    This season has been an improvement, but as rightly been pointed out, inconsistent. I don’t believe you can single out a defender, as defence is about “partnerships” and “the unit”. He has played in front of changing goalies with confidence issues, changing partners at centre back, a make-shift left back (more of an issue for him as that’s his side of the pitch) and little defensive cover in front of him.

    I could list a number of world class defenders who were bought by “better teams” and then struggled for a season or two – Tony Adams was a donkey, Ferdinand was a waste of money, Pallister was fragile – and these players were joining settled and successful defensive units.  Its different playing at a “big club”, and thats not just down to expectation, its also the type of game you play – how many teams went to Southampton and parked the bus hoping to score on the break? Since coming to Liverpool, and this season in particular he has had to learn a new game – how to defend when most of your team are spending most of the time at the other end of the pitch.

    I don’t think his mentality is suspect at all – he has been rash for sure, but I have never seen him go missing in a game or throw in the towel.  Lovren is 27, approaching peak years for a centre back and given the chance to build a partnership with Matip, playing in front of a rejuvenated Mingolet, a proper full back to his left and a more cohesive midfield I think he will come good. Not only will a confident Lovren playing in a settled defense be a good defender, the other aspects of his game will flourish with a contribution – and goals – at the other end of the pitch.

    Klopp was a centre back for most of his playing career so he must know a thing or two about defenders and he sees a lot more of Lovren than we do, so just like Rafa with Lucas, I am happy to trust his judgment.

     

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks Dave. Thing is with Adams, Ferdinand etc… They were quie young… Very early 20’s. Like you say Lovren is 27 now and I can’t see getting much better. Very fair comments though.

  20. madchenKliop 6 years ago

    Even Jurgen Klopp himself acknowledged that Lovren is capable of making some dodgy decisions (was it after the Palace game?), but he also went on to list DL’s physical qualities and bravery.  I think we know pretty well what he is and isn’t by now!   When we play well he contributes a lot to that also.  We might be able to find an upgrade, but  I don’t think we can afford to just toss him out expecting the grass to be greener either.  Looking at Joe Gomez it strikes me that we would almost certainly see a similar number of brainfart errors if he played regularly, but that wouldn’t mean he wasn’t potentially a worldbeater either.  He needs to get the experience.  Lovren maybe just about to turn that corner in the same way that Mignolet appears to have ironed out the kinks.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks… I would be happy for Lovren to stay at the club but to be a 3rd choice, a replacement for Klavan.

  21. Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

    First of all thanks to Paul, Chris and all at TTT for giving me the honour and privilege for writing a piece for this wonderful site and community.
    I will reply to all comments etc… Later but thanks for taking the effort to read and even commenting. I will be honest, I have bee bricking it. It is liking having your homework marked by the class!

    • Chris Rowland 6 years ago

      Please see me afterwards. 😉
      We’ve got faith in all our writers and contributors Simon. Maybe you’ll do it again sometime?

    • madchenKliop 6 years ago

      You wait til you get the headmaster’s comment!  Or even worse, he says nothing…  !  😉

  22. Michael 6 years ago

    I’m with OT, directly above.

    Also: I think that there is something ungainly about Lovren that makes him look less fit/graceful/assured than he actually is. Our goals-against record in the run-in would suggest that Lovren has, at the least, cut down on his ‘catastrophic errors.’ When he’s good — and he’s shown that for periods of time — he can be a very formidable part of a central defense.

    It seems to me that when he does make errors, they are big, loud, glaring ones. Errors that get remembered.

    I also wonder about recent perceptions. I’d like to think I’d still have given Lovren a 6 for the season even if Atkinson had called a penalty on Sunday. But I imagine that even among educated fans, that might have skewed the average. And, of course, it really shouldn’t — the play is the same, the referee’s decision could have gone either way.

    For me, I don’t think we know yet whether the injuries that Lovren and Matip have suffered are anomalies or part of a larger pattern. I think if they played enough games together next season they might prove to be a worthy duo. But I do think that we need more than two first-rate central defenders to mount campaigns on multiple fronts next season.

    And while I have much love for Lucas Leiva, and appreciate him coming in in a pinch, I should not want to see Lucas in that position going forward. Very resourceful of the player and the manager, but we all agree we need a deeper squad — and thus fewer MacGyver-esque solutions — next season. So I’m glad we’ve got Lovren, glad we’re paying him, and only wish to bring in someone who is at least as good.

     

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks. If we do a sign a new centre half, he must be an improvement on what we have… Not another ‘Klavan’ but someone who is ready for the first team.

  23. Justin_mc 6 years ago

    When We lost 6-1 against Stoke, I hoped it was the last time I saw Lovren in a Liverpool shirt.

    After watching his performance against Middlesborough, possibly our most important ma I had the same thought

  24. Justin_mc 6 years ago

    When We lost 6-1 against Stoke, I hoped it was the last time I saw Lovren in a Liverpool shirt.

    After watching his performance against Middlesborough, possibly our most important match of the season, I had the same thought. Another referee would have given a penalty and probably sent him off and we might well have lost the match. He was awful, and it lead for a while before the goal to a spreading defensive panic which has been a staple of our game since Rodgers. The big difference was Mignolet who came out and dominated his area, whereas before he would have added to the panic/started it.

    He’s somewhere in the middle of those performances, and occassionally plays a blinder, and I accept that he hasn’t been protected by his left back, but a brainless error is always there hanging over him.

     

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      I only watched the Stoke highlights once, if I remember Emre Can was awful and contributed to a few of the goals from right back… But like I say, only watched once and never again!

      • Justin_mc 6 years ago

        To be honest, I stopped watching at half time, maybe the only time that has ever happened to me, and can’t remember the game, he might not have been the worst at that particular match, but had made some pretty awful performances during the season

  25. MikeH 6 years ago

    If 5 is average then I think Lovren is a 5.

    He’s a warrior and good when he has a tight focus on the job in hand.

    However…he is 28 and should be at his peak..his judgement should be significantly better by now and is not. He doesn’t have pace to redress his errors.

    Klopp has shown no interest thus far in buying or having a conventional DM so Lovren has to do better as do his teamates.

    He is a prime target for upgrading. Is he the highest priority? Only Klopp can answer that.

    Personally I’d say great teams have great spines…he would not be in my great spine category of defenders.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Agree with that. Only Klopp knows and he is meant to be part of the spine, like you I don’t think he should be part of it.

  26. DiggerDom 6 years ago

    Well done Simon, good article.

    I gave Lovren 6 – defensively he and Milner are the obvious weaknesses in the back line. There has defeintely been an improvement with the defence as the season wore on, but for me, this is mostly down to the new found confidence the team (and fans) have in Migs (huge credit to him for turning things around by the way).

    Lovren is strong in the air and has some good games, but lacks the consistency and nerve to be the leader of our defence. He is shown up even more by how calm Matip is. The way Klopp seems to want us to play means that the side need calm defenders who are clear thinkers and decision makers – the biggest weakness to Lovren’s game. Also his passing and pace are again average when compared to Matip and his ex-direct rival Sakho.

    However, as third choice or for the matches at the land of giants, he is an excellent choice for now. Seems like a decent human being too.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      I agree, he is decent back up… But if we can, we need an upgrade.

  27. I gave Lovren a 6. I think, like others have said, that he fluctuates between excellent and terrible. But I think that his form was exemplary after the Palace nightmare – which was only a few games ago, but the new contract seemed to help boost his confidence at a time when it could have nose-dived. I’ve no idea if he’s worth £100k a week, but that’s only a quarter of what the top PL players earn and will take him through his peak years, when the £100k a week will get cheaper by comparison to new, higher wage packages being handed out everywhere.

    In those late-season aerial battles he was immense. The problem is charging out, being overly aggressive 50 yards from goal, and then getting skinned.

    I also think his partnership with Matip has gone well – not sure what the overall stats are, but the only defeat was against Palace (they were unbeaten until then, I recall). So in the end, is it something like one defeat in 17 or 18 games together? They complement each other nicely, although a bit more pace at centre-back would be nice.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks Paul. They certainly seem to have improved recently and I believe you are right about only 1 defeat with Lovren and Matip. Certainly Migs seems to have stepped up a gear and a year or so after his new contract. So perhaps Lovren will get better and will feel more settled. I do hope he does prove me wrong.

    • Author

      But I think that his form was exemplary after the Palace nightmare

      I thought he was shocking (EDIT: on reflection, a better word is poor).

      The fudged defending against West Ham on the corner at one-nil to allow Ayew two big chances, then not reacting quick enough. The penalty against Middlesbrough, again when the game was in the balance. Against Southampton, they refused to attack so he had very little to do. He could have easily cost us fourth place if the ref gives the decision vs Boro or Ayew scores to equalise at the Olympic Stadium.

      I say this because the rest of those around him were excellent defensively, and it touches on Jeff’s point above in his post: the only way we get the best out of Dejan is to build a defence and tactical system around HIM. But that, of course, would impede on all the other players like Can, Coutinho (in midfield), Henderson and the two full-backs. When all we need to do is upgrade him and we have ourselves the start of a league-winning defence 🙂

      He was decent against Watford, I’ll give you that.

      I gave him a 5. Think I’m being generous.

    • Justin_mc 6 years ago

      But that charging out and getting skinned is exactly what happened against Middlesborough, possibly our most important match of the season.

  28. Taşkın (Tash) 6 years ago

    A solid 6.  Ironically meaning he’s quite a way from actually being solid.

    In his defence he’s had a fair few injuries (enough to give me a little bit of concern as to his durability) and has had to swap partners on too many occasions, often breaking up the partnership just when things looked at their most positive.  But as is mentioned by others above its the far too common lapses in concentration or the simply bad defensive play (positioning, timing, being clever enough to know when to tackle and when to not…) that have too often let him down.

    One plus point is that he’s quite lucky.  From memory his goal conceded to fuck up ratio (is that particular stat available on Opta?) would appear to be a plus point for him.  He could have conceded a few, given away a penalty and been sent off just in the last 2 games.  And yet he remained on the pitch and ‘helped’ the side to a couple of clean sheets.  Impressive.

    In fairness he’s come an awful long way from his disastrous beginnings at the club, but that’s more a mark of how bad he was as opposed to how good he is now.  He’s improved and is now OK.  Occasionally good.  Sometimes even bordering on great.  But too often he has proven himself to be a liability.  Or at the very least a permanently potential liability.  And just as we’ve all mentioned with respect to Mignolet’s lack of assertiveness and occasional howlers (prior to the last month or so), you can only assume that this breeds nervousness across the backline, behind him and even in front of him.  As such, Im convinced that we can and should do better.

    So, again like many before me, Id be happy to keep him as a 3rd choice CB (and wouldnt be at all concerned to see him go, although with a new contract that isnt happening), but would really like to see an upgrade coming in during the summer.  The fight for his place might even have the Mignolet effect on him and improve him to the point that he is a worthy first team pick, even if not outstanding.  Of course, if the many rumours around CBs are to be believed, thats more or less how Klopp sees it too.

    • Simon Klopp (AKA 1Hanmdd) 6 years ago

      Thanks… An upgrade is required… Surely with Sakho going, Klavan too and probably Moreno the defence will look very different.

      • Taşkın (Tash) 6 years ago

        There will definitely be some changes at the back.  As you state, no choice really.

        Not convinced Klavan will go yet though.  As potential 4th or even 5th choice Id understand if he does.  And equally, if a further upgrade comes in Id understand Klopp moving him on too, but he may hang around and, in those circumstances, I wouldnt be unduly concerned.

  29. acsgp 6 years ago

    Yeah, came to a 6 rating too.

    Problem with Lovren is he’s either very, very good, or very, very bad. So 6 is like a blended rate. But we need his aerial prowess against the up and under teams like manure.

  30. Neil 6 years ago

    I would give Lovren a 4 and I’m being generous.

    He is nowhere near good enough for this club and how he got a contract for 100k/week is a mystery.

    Lovren’s concentration can be poor, too much ball watching, poor positioning and rash tackles.

    I love Klopp but the fact that he rates Lovren and rewards him with a new contract makes me worry about his judgement.

    I played the game for 20+ years as a centre half and even though the standard was  nowhere near the PL, I think the basics of defending are the same regardless of what level you play and Lovren is a poor defender.

    I’m convinced we will buy at least one CH, 1 LB and 1 DMF.

    Roll on 17/18

  31. halonkarrison 6 years ago

    I voted Lovren a 7, but was meant to vote a 6. It was one of those in between ones but was feeling generous when casting my vote.

    It’s really hard to score any of our centre backs individually, with so many partnership changes and players fairing better and worse because of it.

    What I really like about Lovren is his attitude. His decision making can be headscratching (even noted by Klopp when he signed a new contract) at times, but his response to mistakes is really positive. Crystal Palace away is probably the best example of that.

    He’s also one of the first to celebrate with team mates when we score, which might be clutching at straws, but something that can’t be dismissed when Klopp is trying to build a togetherness as a base for success.

    This season he’s improved again, and has made less mistakes than he has in previous seasons, but a player shouldn’t be defined by the mistakes he makes, that isn’t fair. Lovren has established himself as the aggressor to Matip’s controller, and in that partnership can only get better with more game time together.

    Time will tell if his position comes under threat by a new CB, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a disaster if he started next season next to Matip.

  32. Rob Brackstone 6 years ago

    I’ve gone for a 6. Is he an upgrade on Skrtel? He exhibits many of the same tendencies to dive in, or rashly try and get in front of the man leaving space behind, or giving away cheap fouls. In the final game vs ‘boro, had I been ref, that was a pen and a sending off. We’ve seen those given time after time. He got away with one. How costly could that have been, and he let the man in behind through poor positioning.

    I have fought his corner too on occasion this season. I think the defence are very exposed by the lack of a genuine DM and the way we play encouraged to commit numbers forward exposes that flaw further. So Lovren may feel he needs to win the ball early, to make attackers make decisions quickly so they get it wrong, before he and his fellow CB are outnumbered and the opposing team can calmly pick the right pass. I stand by everything I’ve said on that front. I also think the keeper issue hasn’t gone away. Yes, Mignolet has been better, looked a bit more commanding, there haven’t been any blatant ric’s, but better isn’t brilliant. More commanding isn’t commanding. I don’t think that position is solved, although I know a number on here disagree with me, and that is fair enough. Anyway back to Lovren;

    Fact is Lovren more than any centre back we’ve played (except for Lucas in one game I can’t recall) looks shakier on the pitch than anyone else. You always feel the error is  going to come from him if it is going to come. With Matip there we have a cool calm collected chap who with a bit of reliability and pace next to him might see a really good team build. Add a DM, could be brilliant, and the base for everything Klopp wants to do. Total football from the rest of them. That triangle needs to be solid though, and a 6 at Lovrens age, isn’t justifying him being a key part of that triangle.

     

  33. Brian 6 years ago

    I went for an 8, He got an extra point from me because he seems a target of criticism from our fans, In the same way Lucas used  to be.  The Matip/Lovern partnership has one defeat in 17 games, He has our best aerial duel success rate.He made the same amount of errors leading to goals as Matip, Whose ratings I would imagine will be a lot higher than Lovern.

    I feel his start at the club under Brendan Rodgers management clouds our judgement, As he was very poor in a leaky defence. His improvement under Klopp has been huge. Has he a mistake in him still ?, a lot of fans would say the same about David Luiz. Who just won the league with Chelsea. I feel Lovern is an example of where Klopp feels he can improve the player, Training been more important than transfers as he already stated.  This to me explains Lovern’s wages and I am very happy to trust Jurgen Klopp’s judgement. I hope Matip/Lovern can get 30-34 games together next Season. Then use the money saved from buying an expensive CB to upgrade our full backs.

  34. Assif 6 years ago

    Simon well written and fair assessment on Dejan. No doubt he is a lovely guy and gives his all on the pitch, but I believe in order to get to the level this club aspires we need a better decision maker alongside Matip.

    I gave him a 5 and see him as a perfectly adequate squad player for certain game scenarios. Next season is a big season for him. Klopp seems to believe he can improve and that’s good enough for me.

  35. Dan Kennett 6 years ago

    Lovren is a real curate’s egg of a player.  He has most of the physical attributes required to be a top player, but as elite pro athletes always tell us so much of the difference at the top is MENTAL.  After watching him in nearly all of his 101 starts, I have concluded that Lovren really suffers in 2 areas:
    1) Decision Making
    2) Dealing with pressure

    For (1), as soon as he has the time to think, the chances are he will make a much worse decision than if he was acting on instinct.  the nadir this season was the Palace home game when he made 2 of those decisions that could rightly be labelled as “catastrophic”.  If he can be played in a defensive unit where all his decsions are made for him and he has just has to block and clear then he can be very impressive.  I think he’s played a big part in the games at West Brom and Watford where our set up was low risk and he could just defend

    For (2), it seems that he has a genuine problem with nerves or anxiety and he becomes utterly reckless.  He was like a cat on a hot tin roof against Boro and it reminded me of that game at Southampton where Klopp had to sub him at half time.  Similarly, in his 1st half season under Rodgers he was charging out recklessly and mis-judging routine high balls as a result.  The problem with playing for Liverpool is that you will be exposed to far more high pressure than at mid-table clubs and if you can’t handle it you’re going to be in big trouble.

    The problem with both of these weaknesses is that Lovren is supposed to be a senior pro now.  He’s 27.  In that respect he’s the successor to Skrtel who never assumed the mantle of senior pro either.  Which raises an interesting question: is Lovren any better than Skrtel?  Personally I don’t think so, in fact he may even be slightly worse.  Are either of them better than Neil Ruddock or John Scales?  Certainly they’re not in the same class as the likes of Stephane Henchoz and Matip, let alone Hyppia and Carragher!

    Overall, it’s a 5 from me for the season

    • OT 6 years ago

      Dan

      I do not disagree with you exactly, but it seems to me (and I may well be wrong) that your 1 and 2 above are highlighted when the team is stretched and he is left alone in yards and yards of space – because of his lack of pace.  In such situations, pacy attackers can just bypass him leaving him only bad choices.  I thus judge him a bit better than Skrtel (though I’d want neither as 1st choice) because Skrtel mindlessness seemed to me entirely random while Lovren’s seems more predictable. (Realize may be grasping at straws there.)  Thus I can see a role for him as a potentially valuable reserve where I could not see such a role for Skrtel.

      (I also think he is ill suited to play out from the back but that is another issue entirely.)

      It also seems to me that in games when the team is not stretched, he looks much better.  And it is against the better teams that we are not stretched.  In all honesty, I could never figure out why Lovren would be on the field when Sahko was available but not on the pitch.  But this year that wasn’t an option.  And my sense is (which may be incorrect) that his play against the top six and Costa and Kane and Lukaku, etc. was much better than in the games you note where he floundered.     Do you think I may be correct in this apprehension or am I deluding myself? 🙂

       

      • Dan Kennett 6 years ago

        OT,

        I think (1) is heavily influenced by team style and managerial instruction.  Klopp (and Rodgers before him) often chooses to play an open, progressive style of football that exposes Lovren’s limitations and his poor decision making.  It’s up to the manager to decide whether he can accept this or not.  i.e. can he live with Lovren’s limitations in his preferred style?  does he get in another centre back who might be better?  or does he change his default style (e.g. maybe have a more traditional defensive midfield player or keep his fullbacks tucked in)?  It will be interesting to see what happens

        as for (2), I don’t think this is related to team style at all, I just think it’s his personality.  Can he be taught to cope with pressure better?  will it come naturally with more experience of pressure situations?  or is he just an overly anxious individual who will always be prone to panic?

  36. Anthony Stanley 6 years ago

    A very well written and splendidly self-deprecating piece Simon – just do more research 😉

    I jest of course.  For me, he will be third best next season, so I agree.  And as far as third best defenders go, he’s a decent one.  He might be on big bucks, but that’s the reality of the Premier League right now; even if he only plays 25 games in all competitions, for a club with their eyes on the big prizes (which we should be) that’s about the going rate.  He’s used to Klopp, used to the other lads at the club (though sometimes you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s not the case).

    A huge bug bear of mine was a certain hipster calling Lovren ‘pebbles’.  Most of you will know who I’m talking about but I find this individual’s arrogance – about an elite footballer, a guy who has overcome hurdles we can never imagine, who has given every drop of sweat and ability just to get to where he is – sickening to be honest.  Plus, even if that wasn’t the case, even if Lovren hadn’t worked so hard, he’s a Liverpool player; to be dismissed as ‘pebbles’ just drives me insane.

    But I will say he makes me nervous and sometimes I get the feeling he’s trying too hard, too keen to launch into a towering header or show that he is a pro-active defender.

    But he’s done a decent job this season, sometimes really good, sometimes hand over eyes time.  But then, it remains to be seen whether any center back will truly flourish in a Klopp system with limited protection from midfield and flying fullbacks.  I expect Klopp has very definitive ideas of what he needs in the role and am hoping that he’s identified the player (I refuse to get to excited about VvD).

  37. Jeff 6 years ago

    It seems a decent number of people here want Lovren replaced a first choice center back. Fair enough. Now, if you want to replace him, it opens up a whole series of questions that need to be asked and answered. How much do you want to spend? How much do you have to spend to bring in a better center back than Lovren? Please name a center back who is definitely better than Lovren who might be persuaded to come to Liverpool for not only a fee that Liverpool will pay but wants to come to Liverpool.

    I have seen most of the names put forward as possible replacements for Lovren and some of them are better than Lovren but how much will they cost and could the money be spent better elsewhere? There are some center backs out there who might be quality center backs after some matches in Liverpool but are people prepared to give them the time to settle and develop?

    It is easy to say  that Lovren needs to be replaced, but I suggest that it is going to be hard to do and I am far from being convinced that spending a helluva lot of money on the usual suspect names will provide a significant upgrade on Lovren. To me  the only center back in Europe who could come to Liverpool and from almost day one would be a clear upgrade is Inigo Martinez and I seriously doubt he is coming to Liverpool. To me as I have written instead of spending huge money on a center back, I would look for defensive minded holding midfielders who could he had at decent fees and right full backs who could be had for decent full backs which would be better bang for the pound and improve Liverpool.

    Simply put, I strongly suspect that Lovren will be regular center back for Liverpool next season unless Gomez develops of Sakho is retained or he is injured.

  38. OT 6 years ago

    Jeff

    FWIW – It would be my number one priority.  IMHO LFC needs both pace and size in the back before they can stop giving every large direct park the bus team with a pacy forward a puncher’s chance to beat them off set plays and/or counter attacks.

    Ideally, I’d like to see two center backs come in ahead of Lovren (one if somehow Sahko could be salvaged).

    At a minimum however, whatever LFC gets for Sahko plus should be made available to spend if Klopp identifies a target he wants who would come.  (and for me – John Brooks would be a clear upgrade, I can’t imaging him not coming, nor would he cost as much as Sahko 🙂  … although I have to imagine there are better than him available)

     

    • Jeff 6 years ago

      OT I agree with you that John Brooks would be a good addition to the Liverpool team. Sadly, I do not think it is going to happen. Why? Last summer it was widely rumored that clubs such as Bayern and Man City wanted to bring Brooks to their clubs and it did not happen. He is on a long term contract and I simply cannot see either Berlin selling him or him wanting to leave Germany. (I am aware of the rumors that he wants to play in England.) The two German center backs that I can see coming to Liverpool are Ginter and Tah. Why? I think it is almost certain that Ginter will be moved this summer and he is highly rated by Klopp. There have been rumors that Liverpool want Tah for sometime and Bayer had a poor season which may well mean that there will be changes and Tah is one player who would fetch at least a goodly sum and who might well be someone the club would move on to hold on to some of the other lads on the roster.

      • OT 6 years ago

        I’d be very happy with those two 🙂 particularly Tah

        Both are young full German internationals with size and pace.

        Would assume if Ginter will be moved and Klopp still rates him that deal could get done with reasonable ease.

      • Jeff 6 years ago

        OT I am well aware that guessing on which players may well be available at a price Liverpool will pay and who might come to Liverpool is be best a guess and maybe more often not pure wishful thinking. I try to find something that leads me to think a player might be moved. For example, a player has one year left of a contract of a club has brought in a replacement or a club needs money or a new manager wants to bring in someone or a club such as Barca or Bayern are going to have a clear out and on and on. I am just hoping that there is something to my guessing about these two lads.

         

         

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