No player came to represent the end of Brendan Rodgers' time as Liverpool manager more than Dejan Lovren. The Croatian centre half arrived in 2014 for a hefty £20M transfer fee and was slotted straight into the starting eleven as Liverpool got off to their worst start in modern history. In the end he lost his spot to Mamado Sakho only to be handed it back again to start this season.
Liverpool once again struggled, only this time the manager who had hoped he could become the club's vocal and commanding defensive leader didn't survive. Rodgers was sacked, and Lovren found himself down the defensive pecking order under new boss Jürgen Klopp until an injury to Sakho gave him another shot. Which makes him the last player you'd expect to be casting aspersions on the former manager.
"It feels like two different teams," Lovren told reporters gathered at the pre-match press conference ahead of today's Europa League tie with Bordeaux. "It is always easier when a manager has belief in the team and in yourself. It makes it much easier to play and gives you the confidence that, even if you make a mistake, afterwards he will talk to you and explain to you the wrong things and the good things."
It might be natural to think the defender, who was so favoured by Rodgers, would be better to keep quiet on any complaints he might have had about the way things had gone under the former manager. That a player who was so favoured by him, though, found himself as frustrated and uncertain by the end of Rodgers' time in charge as everyone else seemed to be is telling. By the end, it looks as though Rodgers had lost even Lovren.
Rodgers showed great promise at times while he was Liverpool's manager, but by the end his side was a mess of seemingly conflicting instructions. There was no foundation; no plan; no patterns of play. It was a side that was unbalanced and dysfunctional. And unlike during the title challenge two seasons previously, it lacked the set of in form, world class attackers that could have papered over any cracks with goals.
Lovren didn't exactly cover himself in glory under Rodgers—and it's far to early to say he's turned a corner under Klopp—but then he was never put in a position to succeed, either. And now, despite always being one of Rodgers' favourites, he seems more than happy to point that out. Which is a little bit strange and awkward but also more than a little telling about the sad, inevitable ending of the Brendan Rodgers era.