I had an epiphany yesterday. Sitting at the pub enjoying the first few sips of my Guinness, I watched Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yidder slam home the opening goal into an empty net from six yards out. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the play as we were only mere minutes into the match. My initial reaction, following the standard curse reflex after conceding a goal that is, was to watch the replay thinking to myself “Please God don’t let it be Lovren’s fault.” I have a bit of a soft spot for Dejan Lovren. He got a ton of abuse early in his Liverpool career, some warranted and some not-so-much. I want him to be a great Liverpool player, just like I want them all to be great. But every time we concede a goal, someone cleverly finds a way to blame it on Lovren. Right or wrong, he will carry some of the blame. I cringe thinking about it. A few of you might recall (and I do mean a very few) from the first chapter of my book Walking Through The Storm, the Croatian defender played particularly well in the season opener at Stoke in 2015. So much so that in my drunken jubilation after that victory I changed the lyrics from the famous Foreigner song to be “I wanna know what Lovren is!!!!” It was a wonderful moment that I won’t soon forget. Enter the epiphany I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. As television replays confirmed what I dreaded to be fact, I saw that even my 10-year old Australian Cattle Dog could’ve stopped Sergio Escudero’s cross from rolling past him to a wide-open Ben Yidder on the far post. At that moment I finally figured out exactly what Lovren is. He is a central defender that will never again earn the trust of the average Liverpool supporter. And because of that, it’s time for him to go.
Make no mistake about it, I still believe that Dejan Lovren is a decent player. I believe that he has the qualities it takes to be a part of this squad. Had we successfully brought in Virgil van Dijk this past summer, I believe that Lovren would be as capable of a third-choice central defender in all of England. But I am growing weary of trying to defend the man when no one else cares to give a shit. He’s lost the benefit of the doubt, and to be fair I’m not sure he ever had it from most fans. I don’t deny that he’s had some howlers, not many more egregious than Wednesday’s horrendous gaff. But I’ve also seen him put in stellar performances as well. Last April I sat in the Kop at Anfield and watched him personally put Romelu Lukaku in his back pocket of the Merseyside derby. But none of that seems to matter. According to the masses he’s shite, and always will be. It’s like my ex-girlfriend from a long time ago. When I started dating her, I was sure that she couldn’t be monogamous. I didn’t care, because we were young and had some great times together. Nonetheless I knew that she’d be unfaithful and in fact she was. My friends would tell me to get out of the relationship, but I defended it until I no longer could. Eventually it had to end. And so does this. Dejan Lovren is like my ex. No matter how many good games he plays, there will always be the expectation that he fucks something up to cost Liverpool some precious points. I believe the Lovren Affair must now come to an end.
I can handle some losses and dropped points. Mistakes happen. When an attacker makes a blunder, it doesn’t usually result in much on the scoreboard. But when a defender errs, it typically gets amplified with an opposing scoring chance. They’re more noticeable and memorable. The average fan might not remember that on Wednesday Emre Can missed a golden opportunity just before halftime with a weak effort to the far post. But they’ll never forget that howler that led to Sevilla’s first goal. The truth of the matter is that the draw isn’t a terrible result. Surely, we wanted all three points and likely deserved them. But the footy gods were kind to us with a weak group and it would be a colossal disappointment if Liverpool don’t advance to the knockout stage this season. I can handle the home draw because I know that we can win the next five. But I get frustrated at the hypocrisy of some of our fans. Next time we are about to kickoff, take a look at the banners flying around Anfield. You’ll Never Walk Alone? That is unless you are a shite player that doesn’t deliver results. Then you can piss off to another club. In Klopp We Trust? Except for when it comes to his failure to acquire central defender reinforcements in the transfer window.
After every goal we have to find a scapegoat to blame. Most of the time, a goal that is scored could’ve been avoided had one of about 3-4 players done their job. Although it happens from time to time, rarely can a goal be blamed on one single player’s fuck-up. Even Ben Yidder’s goal yesterday could’ve been avoided had someone else stepped up and done a job. Watch the replay and see what I mean. Joel Matip missed a relatively simple tackle outside the box that would’ve thwarted their attack, and then moments later Joe Gomez could’ve been marking his winger tighter which would’ve allowed him to block the cross out for a cornerkick. Even Alberto Moreno should’ve retreated back to get goalside of Ben Yidder and been in position to defend at the far post. By far the simplest play should’ve been made by Lovren, and unfortunately for him that’s all that anyone will remember. Lovren fucked it up and cost us all three points. Forget about Firmino’s missed penalty, and the fact that an entire midfield and defense couldn’t slow down the Sevilla attack en route Correa’s equalizer… off a fucking THROW-IN!!!! Ask any Liverpool supporter and they’ll tell you, these dropped points fall squarely on the Croatian.
We’ve reached the point where it’s time to cut bait with Dejan Lovren. I see no other alternative for the man. After that debacle on Wednesday, I couldn’t be bothered to look at my Twitter feed. I think my mind would’ve literally blown up. I had to mark every single Liverpool-based podcast as “played” on Thursday for the simple reason that I couldn’t bear to hear fans moan about how miserable they are watching Lovren be a first-choice center back. I still haven’t garnered the strength to listen again, and it’s been a stark reminder that terrestrial radio sucks ass with all of the silly commercials they air. I find myself working too hard to defend a player that wears our beloved jersey. It’s too laborious to avoid the negativity. His days as a valued member of Liverpool Football Club are gone. To some fans, he never was. He was a lucky player that was in the right place at the right time to head home the dramatic winner against Dortmund. To them he is an overrated defender whose ship has sailed.
Yesterday Bobby Firmino hit the post on a penalty kick and moments later the Kop were chanting his name in support. They still trust him to do a job for Liverpool and want him to know it. Dejan Lovren has lost that trust. When he fucks up and the team concede as a result, I get to hear comments that Dejan Fucking-Lovren just became the third player on the squad with a hyphenated last name. I simply don’t see a way back for him getting into the good graces of the fans. I hope I’m wrong and he somehow pulls off a miracle. I bought that $20 Asian-manufactured Lovren kit to annoy all of the haters at the pub, and I would dearly love to be able to wear it again in celebration. But I’m mostly tired of hoping for that day to come. I do wonder what will happen when he finally does depart the club. What will the fans make of his eventual return to Anfield? Will he get a good reception from the Kop? I think I already know the answer, but the fact that I have to think about it tells you exactly how dire this situation has become for him. Of course, this all becomes moot when we sign van Dijk in January and Lovren shifts to third choice before we win the league for the 19th time in club history. Then Dejan Lovren can stay as long as he wants. See you all at the pub!