The start of the season wasn’t great for Dejan Lovren. Bearing the brunt of Liverpool’s defensive criticism, and a lot of times deservedly so, can take it’s toll on a guy. Most notably was the horror show part he played in Liverpool’s defeat at the hands of Tottenham in October, causing Jurgen Klopp to unceremoniously yank him from the pitch half an hour in. Things only seemed to get worse from there with constant social media abuse and then eventually real life danger.
Lovren’s home had been invaded by three masked men while Dejan himself was away with the squad for their Champions League match against Maribor. The house itself, though, was not empty, as his wife and two young kids were home at the time.
“Unfortunately, my wife was in and two kids. It was horrific,” Lovren said to the Echo recently.
“Of course people look at football, they don’t look at what is going on around your life. It is not easy because we are also humans and everyone has problems, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had some.
“I am giving my best to have a quiet life but sometimes it doesn’t depend on myself because people just want to come into your home and steal some things, even though I have nothing in my home.”
Thankfully nothing was taken, but that kind of trauma isn’t exactly easy to shake - especially when coupled with a downtrodden confidence on the pitch. Since then, Lovren has settled into his life both on and off the pitch. He’s been more stable in defense, especially with a good partner, and credits the support around him for getting him through the dark period.
“In those difficult situations, I saw the support from some really good people like the manager, the club, my team-mates and of course the supporters who are ready always to support you,” the centerback continued.
“I said many times I don’t know one player who doesn’t make a mistake, especially a defender and especially how we play at Liverpool.
“We play a really high line, offensive football and sometimes you are one against one against top strikers and top strikers need just one chance. If they score then they will blame you or someone else.
“I had many times these wrong decisions that I made, sometimes I can accept it, sometimes not because football is like that. But in the end it depends on yourself and whether you are ready to move on or not.
“I think I responded quite well even with some different things around my life, burglars and things like that, so it wasn’t quite easy for me, especially back in October.”
Maybe it’s true that we were all a little too hard on the guy back then as fans, hard on every player honestly. This has kind of been Lovren’s pattern since he’s joined us, periods of highs and lows, inconsistency. Lovren has always been best with a good partner, and the addition of Virgil van Dijk to the squad has proved beneficial not only for the whole team but for Dejan too. Something Klopp is especially enthusiastic in, and that Dejan appreciates.
“It is the decision of the manager. I am here. I am doing my best job on the training ground and whatever I can do on the pitch when I play,” Lovren said.
“At the end it is his decision. Sometimes you are happy, sometimes you are not, but that is part of football. You need to accept that. When we win everything is good.
“From my point of view, it is always good to hear some positive things but at the end if the manager chooses someone else then you are disappointed.
“But you know, I think we did quite well, me and Virgil in the last couple of games when we played. We understood each other quite well and hopefully we can do it also in the future like that.”
So far it’s worked out, as Liverpool have managed to keep five clean sheets in their last seven matches, including two of those in the Champions League against Porto. Lovren has always been a confidence player. When he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll and hoping to carry that into one of the most important matches of the season this weekend.
“It was more of a mental challenge than a physical one,” Lovren added.
“We didn’t do the best game in our season but the most important thing is we are in the quarter-finals and we can concentrate on a big game against Man United.
“Last time, when they came here, they defended really deep so let’s see what happens now.”