Following his side’s 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Jürgen Klopp has some important rebuilding to do at Liverpool. Top of the agenda will be to restore the confidence of centre back Dejan Lovren who he humiliated by substituting in the first half.
Lovren was at fault for both goals, twice losing Harry Kane as Tottenham took an early lead. First he allowed the England forward to spin off him from a routine throw-in to go around Simon Mignolet to score and then the Liverpool defender misjudged a header and Kane went through to assist Son Heung-min for Spurs’ second.
Klopp responded by substituting Lovren on 31 minutes for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, reshuffling his team pushing Joe Gomez to the centre of the defence and moving Emre Can to right back. How will Lovren feel after being made scapegoat for this defeat and seeing his manager move two players out of position rather than continue to play him against Kane. As he walked off the pitch, Lovren must have wondered if his former manager Mauricio Pochettino, who brought him to English football with Southampton, would have treated him this way.
Being substituted before half time is up there with a sub being subbed as the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a player. It shatters confidence and can destroy the relationship between player and manager.
This disastrous man management from Klopp is made worse by how important Lovren is to Liverpool. Along with Joël Matip and Ragnar Klavan, he is one of just three specialist centre backs at the club. Ostracising Lovren now with no decent cover could cost Klopp dearly.
Liverpool had all summer to sign a new centre back and chased Virgil van Dijk only for Southampton to refuse to sell. Klopp has ignored his defence time and time again, spending just £12m on new defenders since taking over. Not signing a new defender, allowing Mamadou Sakho to leave on transfer deadline day and now scapegoating Dejan Lovren in this defeat are adding to Klopp’s growing defensive worries.