Following the social media abuse of Dejan Lovren after his howler against Tottenham, Liverpool fans responded in a big way, swaying the Player of the Month online vote to the Croatian defender. When the online movement started on Reddit and Twitter, all Liverpool players were chasing Mohamed Salah, who alone had nearly half the votes.
On the pitch, it seems highly implausible that Lovren would catch Salah with such a head start, but when it came to the vote, he was able to catch and narrowly pip the speedy Egyptian who already has 10 Liverpool goals to his name.
“It only shows how fans are different from people who are very loud on social media or wherever. That’s how I see it,” Jurgen Klopp said after the final vote.
“In the more difficult moments you have to really show togetherness. I think it’s one of the best signs. I could not imagine the fans would react that quick.
“I’m not sure exactly when the vote was, but obviously that was the reaction and I really like the fact that they did it because it’s a fantastic sign.”
Of course, it’s easy to praise those who made this happen, but hard to ignore the shitty element of the internet that preceded it. On social media, as in life, the loudest folks also tend to be the worst. On this subject, Klopp tells the players to ignore the criticism on social media (which is admittedly hard when death threats are levelled at yourself and your family).
“I tell the boys: ‘Don’t read it.’ But they might be on social media from the sponsors side, boots and stuff like that.
“The criticism, the things we think about the game, that’s our opinion. But no other opinion is important. That does not mean I am always 100% right but it’s the only important one.”
This episode highlights just how powerful these online forces can be, both for good and ill. In real life, most people are mostly good most of the time. Online, the added veil of anonymity can bring out the worst in people, even if it’s just over a dumb fucking game. Still, in this case, the good ultimately prevailed, and a majority of fans showed the true meaning of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Hopefully next time Dejan will go out and earn that Player of the Month honor.