With Liverpool falling to a 3-0 defeat at home to West Ham United on Saturday, the performance of £20 million centre-back Dejan Lovren has come under considerable scrutiny.
Winning just a third of his attempted tackles and aerial duels, Lovren also made a costly error in possession leading up to Hammers midfielder Mark Noble’s 29th-minute strike in a miserable all-round performance.
The 26-year-old looked desperate to impress, and contributed to a dismal defensive display from Brendan Rodgers‘ back line.
Watching as part of Sky Sports‘ Super Sunday coverage, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher criticised Lovren’s performance, suggesting he should “just do the basics.”
“It was back to the bad days of last season at home for Liverpool with defensive mistakes,” he said, before detailing a catalogue of errors leading up the West Ham’s first and second goals.
“[First-half goalscorer Manuel] Lanzini was excellent on the day but it was a poor header from [Martin] Skrtel and then [Joe] Gomez just needed to sort out his feet at the back post.
“I don’t know what Lovren’s doing [for the second goal]. He has two or three chances to clear his lines.
“It probably summed up his whole display.”
Continuing to criticise Lovren’s performance, Carragher advised the Croatian to return to a no-nonsense defensive approach.
“The only way to describe Lovren’s performance was David Luiz-like,” the 37-year-old said.
“He was doing things you don’t really want to see centre-backs do: 50-yard passes – that at time got there – but there was one occasion where he did a double stepover and then got tackled.
“I don’t know if it’s overconfidence after a couple of good performances but I’m watching him thinking, just do the basics.
“You’ve got three clean sheets; your job is to keep them out, not show everyone what else you can do. Defend first.”
Carragher was renowned for his defence-first approach throughout his 17-year spell in the Liverpool first team.
A former Liverpool vice-captain, Carragher retired in 2013, joining Sky Sports’ flagship panel.
His year-late replacement at Liverpool was Lovren, with Rodgers describing him shortly after his big-money move from Southampton as “what we’ve been looking for since Jamie Carragher left.”
“He’s a very dominant centre-half,” he manager continued.
“He’ll go and attack the ball, reads the game incredibly well and you can see his leadership qualities with his talking and guidance of the back four.”
At the time, Carragher said Lovren was “exactly what you want in a centre-back,” and suggested him as a potential future captain.
Two years on, and Lovren is at an important stage in his Liverpool career.
Three impressive performances against Stoke City, AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal have been derailed by this Anfield horrorshow.
Lovren may need to take Carragher’s advice if he is to prolong his stay in Rodgers’ defence.