Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss says Lovren was no worse than others, despite early hooking


By Miguel Delaney

Jurgen Klopp said he took Dejan Lovren off after just half an hour into Liverpool's 4-1 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur because he needed to change the structure of the team, and not to just spare him from a nightmare performance, stressing that every player on the side was culpable and that they continued to concede goals that were "presents" after the Croatian went off.

A frank Klopp said he didn't "want to say anything positive about" his team and that all criticism would be fair, as he admitted that they are exactly where they deserve to be in the league, having fallen to ninth.

The Liverpool manager said his team selection was now "open" because it is up to players to prove they deserve to start, but also added that it is up to him to prove he can fix their glaring problems.

Lovren was partly at fault for Spurs' opening two goals, most notably missing a header in the build-up to Heung-Min Son's strike, and was hauled off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after just half an hour. While Klopp had said he could have prevented both goals being scored if he was on the pitch, he backed down from criticising Lovren directly.

"I don't really want to blame [individual] players," the German said. "Lovren was not worse than others. We had to change something, had to make us more stable. It was more that Joe [Gomez] needed more protection in there, but it didn't work."

Klopp said he didn't explain his decision to Lovren, because it could have been any of their players: "I could have taken another one, it would not have been a big difference. We still conceded two more goals after Dejan left the pitch. I think he feels not good. That's OK. Nobody should feel that good at the moment."

With Liverpool now having the club's worst defensive record after nine games since 1964-65, Klopp said he "couldn't believe" the stat as he lambasted the nature of the goals Liverpool conceded. "Today was not good defending in decisive parts. First goal, it's unbelievable easy to defend, when Harry [Kane] has the ball and more, to close the small space, to clear the ball. The second goal, all analysis, all what we knew before the game was clear, it was 100 per cent clear. We miss the moment… it was not possible. Usually we all know Dejan would make a header in this situation, but he miss the ball. Easy goal.

"Third goal, another present. They have the ball, lose it, free-kick, foul. There was nothing, we make the header in the middle of the park. Everything that happened there was so obvious and was so bad from us in these moments.

"These would not happen if I am on the pitch. I am in the middle of trainers, Harry can't get the ball. We have more players than Tottenham and they came through.

"I don't want to say anything positive about us, today… Whatever you say today about us in a negative way, you are right."

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