Slaven Bilic defends Dejan Lovren as Anfield witnesses another bad slip
Liverpool’s defensive resilience evaporates against well-drilled West Ham side
Cheikhou Kouyate and Alberto Moreno of Liverpool compete for the ball at Anfield. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Liverpool 0 West Ham United 3
West Ham United defended everything en route to a first win at Anfield for 52 years so it was fitting that their manager stepped in where few dared to tread afterwards and offered qualified backing for Dejan Lovren.
“If you are telling me Liverpool lost because of Dejan Lovren then no, no, no, no, no,” said Slaven Bilic of the Croatia defender to whom he gave an international debut in 2009 and whose hapless error led to the visitors’ second goal in a momentous triumph. “It was a mistake but a lot of Liverpool players made mistakes.”
Not for the first time on Saturday, and worryingly for Brendan Rodgers, Bilic called it correctly. The defensive resilience behind Liverpool’s encouraging start to a defining campaign dissolved inside three minutes when Martin Skrtel and Joe Gomez both erred for Manuel Lanzini’s opener.
Lovren then returned to the distracted defender of last season to enable Mark Noble to steer West Ham into the comfort zone. But there was more to Liverpool’s first defeat of the season than a howler from a £20 million signing who Rodgers claimed would be a “top-class defender” 24 hours earlier.
No invention, no delivery to the front man and, despite working on “exploiting the space down the sides” in training all week according to their manager, no width: Liverpool took an unexpected step back to the worrying form that characterised the tail-end of last season. Rodgers also reverted to the default setting of a three-man defence after 45 minutes with his best-laid plans going awry. Philippe Coutinho’s one-match ban for a needless dismissal, to be served when Liverpool meet Manchester United after the international break, capped a deflating day for a home crowd that booed their team off at half-time and applauded their opponents at full-time. How it was merited.
“What happened here is so logical,” explained Bilic, bouncing on his toes as he did in the technical area throughout the game. I can organise. I’m not modest. I know I can organise a team with my staff. This game was perfect for [Diafra] Sakho [who scored West Ham’s third goal]. He slaughtered them with his pace and the amount of running he did. And he didn’t have space to breathe. Guardian Service