Dejan Lovren has thanked Jurgen Klopp for helping him save his Liverpool career, but explained that it only took a few choice words and a lot of trust, the Echo report.
The 26-year-old’s debut campaign following his £20m switch from Southampton was nightmarish, with many Reds suggesting Lovren as maybe Liverpool’s worst ever Premier League centre-back.
Lovren made gaffe after gaffe and wasn’t in the side when Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers as manager, but has gradually improved to the point he won December’s Player of the Month award and has been an automatic selection whenever available since.
“To be honest I was always happy to be here from the first day, but sometimes it goes well, sometimes not. Sometimes you need time,” he began.
“It depends on people who manage you well. In the time, since Jurgen has come things have changed a lot.
“I changed also because I really like his work. This pressing and, I would say, the need to be always 100% ready for the fight in the training and in matches.
“I will not say Jurgen gave me the confidence, but he gave me like the push: ‘Hey, you are a good player and here is your chance. Take it’.
“I took it. I am here still.”
Now, it’d be fair to suggest that the Croat is Liverpool’s first-choice centre-back, ahead of even Mamadou Sakho in the pecking order based on 2016 form. Martin Skrtel’s been out since before Christmas and only an injury or a run of poor games from the current starting pair is likely to get him back in the team before the end of the campaign.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the summer when Joel Matip arrives on a free, because the highly praised Cameroonian will expect one of the centre-back berths, meaning Lovren and Sakho may have a fight for the second.
Lovren though is only focussed on tonight’s clash with Manchester United, claiming the first-leg victory could act as a catalyst for a run of wins.
“It felt like a moment,” Lovren said. “I don’t know if it was just because it was Manchester United, but we need to play like this against every opponent and then the crowd will see. We need to see in every game the passion and fight and winning football.
“We need to finish well. We have a big chance to be where we want to be.”