Jonathan Davies praises Dejan Lovren for the brilliant turnaround in his Liverpool career.
So much can change in a matter of months in football, especially opinions on players, and my opinion on this player has done just that.
Dejan Lovren arrived from Southampton (where else?) for £20 million in the summer of 2014. He made his debut for the club during a friendly, scoring in a 4-0 win over Dortmund at Anfield, putting in a man of the match display.
Things were looking good, as we were finally strengthening the positions we were most vulnerable in. However, the 2014/15 season turned out to be a torrid one for the Croatian. Making costly errors in big games such as the one at Old Trafford, being dropped from the first team on various occasions and missing the fifth penalty against Besiktas, which knocked Liverpool out of the Europa league were among Dejan’s lowest moments.
However, the season was not all bad. Lovren scored a stoppage time winner against Swansea to send Liverpool through to the next round of the Capital One Cup in a 2-1 win.
Unlike some players who left in the next transfer window, Dejan Lovren fought for his place and in the first three games of the 2015/16 season, including a trip down to the Emirates, he was as solid as a rock, keeping three clean sheets.
However, in the next game against West Ham, he was dire, over thinking every little thing he had to do including resorting to doing stepovers on the half way line which was understandably not greeted well by the Anfield crowd. This led to him giving the ball away and ultimately a goal was scored.
This was the final straw for some Liverpool fans who wanted the centre back gone, feeling that he would never turn it around. Brendan got the sack a few months later and Lovren was made to wait for some time to get a real run of first team football under the new manager Jurgen Klopp.
His time came when the man in form, Sakho, came off injured in a game against Crystal Palace in November. Dejan had big boots to fill as Sakho was quickly becoming a fan favourite, and boy, did he fill them.
Most fans didn’t want Lovren’s name on the team sheet for the following game against Manchester City, as he was coming up against one of the world’s best strikers, Sergio Aguero. However, Lovren proved his critics wrong and put in a stellar performance in a 4-1 away win.
He was later nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month for November. Lovren continued to put in man of the match performances even though he had various injury troubles, one of his best coming in a dramatic 2-1 away win to Crystal Palace. However, his greatest moment in the red shirt came on 14th April during the Europa League quarter-finals against Dortmund.
With the game drawing 4-4 on aggregate and Dortmund going through on away goals, it looked likely to be yet another heroic defeat for Liverpool, but Lovren had different ideas. Following a short free kick from inside the Dortmund half, Sturridge played a disguised pass to James Milner who put in a delightful ball for Lovren to head past the already beaten Weindenfellar in the 93rd minute of the game.
You could see how much it meant to the big Croatian in his celebration. He was hardly able to hold his emotions in. Liverpool went on to win the match with Dejan Lovren being the hero. He has continued his impressive form during the 2016/17 season, recently being named man of the match in a difficult encounter down at White Hart Lane.
During this good run of form, Dejan has also been named captain on various occasions, this just showing how far he has come. So what’s changed? I do not want to take all the credit away from Lovren, but I think that Jurgen Klopp has made a huge impact on him.
Ever since Klopp has come to the helm Lovren has not been afraid just to kick the ball into row Z, which is something you have to do if being put under pressure. Under Brendan though, he often got himself into trouble playing the ball out from the back even when few options were available.
Nowadays Dejan is the first choice centre back, which would have been a crazy thing to say around a year ago. He was usually partnered with Sakho last season, but with his controversial ending to the football year and apparent ill-discipline during pre-season, he looks out of the picture at the moment, so new signing Matip has been Lovren’s partner in a number of games this season
The two seem to have formed a strong relationship so far even after only playing a few games together. Even when partnered with Klavan, or in last season’s case Lucas and Kolo, he has always looked solid and has set a fine example to the team.
To conclude, I think that Lovren proves that you cannot judge a new player after a few bad games. Lovren’s hard work and determination is admirable.
To be able to fight back after having such a horrible start to his Liverpool career is something that only players that have strong mentalities can do.
We live in a day that after one or two bad games players are written off completely, when in reality it takes time for the player to settle, get to know his teammates and the surrounding area in general. Let’s hope that Lovren continues his fine form throughout this season and continues to improve.
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