The Exorcism of St. Dejan ‘Deja vu’ Lovren – An Alternative Match Report

Dejan Lovren - Football Paradise Illustration

No-alcohol lager, value added tax, a puppy limping by, watered-down tea and soggy crackers, a ‘cashpoint out of order’ sign, the smell of boiled broccoli coming from the kitchen when you’re expecting pork ribs, untangling your earphones, spilled milk and Dejan Lovren making a complete hash of things: these are a few of the little disappointments that snuff our godly spark of goodness and hope.

You might not know it, but each time Stranger Danger gets the better of the puppy-eyed Croatian, a haggard Monarch butterfly flaps its wings, and a comet in the Oort cloud, some 60 miles across and 186 billion miles in a galaxy far, far away, gets its trajectory tweaked by 1 degree by a hit-and-run asteroid. In the course of his club career, and in the grand scheme of things, all those flaps and angles will add up to the harbing-ing of Armageddon.

Dejan Lovren, is, in fact, an instrument of The Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Devourer of Worlds, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Pal of Pan, Spawn of Satan and the Lord of Darkness, Buddy of Beelzebub and He Who Is The Reason Why American Evangelists Never Go Out of Business.

Those curses springboarding off of our tongues damn us all. Here’s how: the inadvertent accompanying spit and ill-will drizzling down the slopes of a stadium work in the same manner as the sparkling water falling from koi-fish-filled ponds spins Buddhist prayer wheels at a lower elevation.  The football field, therefore, becomes an altar, the match, a ceremony, and Dejan, a low-key high-priest of Stan (this is not a typo, actually, that’s what Satan asks Dejan to call him – due to his considerable success on the surface world for the throes of evil – they happen to be on a first-name basis). He, of course, is only a vessel, his actions are not his.

Dejan puts the deja in the vu. His name is no accident. It was preordained. For Liverpool fans, his name on the team sheet is a weekly event, which oftentimes involves showcasing no natural unity between ball and man.

All of this would go a long way to explain the sorry stuff we saw at Wembley, as Liverpool were blown away 4-1 by Harry Kane’s Tottenham. The alternative, which is that Dejan does what he simply does, ought to be a more frightful prospect for Liverpool fans.

Like a boy full of wonder watching an aircraft fly over his head for the time, Dejan saw the ball loop over him softly as he marked Harry Kane. Perhaps, Dejan was thinking of simpler times. One could have empathised, had it not happened twice in quick succession, resulting in the two opening goals from Kane and Son (4th and the 12th minute respectively).

When Dejan was subbed off, his eyes bore the glazed-over look of someone who didn’t quite know where he was, and how it was that he got there – signs symptomatic of demonic possession, alien abductions, and/or a Christmas weekend in Goa, India.

The erstwhile hellhounds of Gegenpressing wore the collective expression of tails sunk between hindquarters; as it would be, if the Dark Prince, after a long day of bad deeds done well, would admonish the pups of Cerberus (the three-headed dog) for depositing a steaming pile of something somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Like He Who Is The King of All Door-To-Door Salesmen, Juergen Klopp was uncertain whom to wag a finger at. But like most pet owners, Klopp did the sensible thing – the footballing equivalent of taking out the poop scoop – a 30th-minute substitution. The stink lingered on.

To say it was all Dejan Lovren’s fault would be awfully mean of me – and, additionally, a lie. Joe Gomez played Kane onside for the opening goal in the 4th minute – which had as much to do with Kane’s brilliance as Lovren’s bewilderment.  James Milner was left trailing like a cartwheel racing a Koenigsegg as the South Korean, Son, effortlessly paddled the curving ball in from Kane with his instep on the 12th minute.

The proof in the pudding was Tottenham scoring two more goals after Dejan’s departure. Ridiculously easy ones, at that.

Joel Matip took little note of the runners the Cameroonian should have been tracking, which is unusual, since his country has a reputation for trackers (Cameroon has Africa’s second highest concentration of biodiversity, consists of 8,260 recorded plant species, 409 species of mammals of which 14 are endemic, 690 species of birds, 250 species of reptiles, and 200 species of amphibians). Matip was culpable for the third goal in the 45th minute and not snuffing a shot by Son that could have made the final tally 5. The ball went on to smack the underside of the crossbar. First of the last two set-piece goals involved Matip deftly heading back a clearance to Alli, who found it fit to put his laces through it.

The final goal summed up Liverpool as a defensive unit. A flapping Simon Mignolet, completely misjudging the flight of the ball, allowed it to drop to Vertonghen (whom Henderson should have been marking) on the far post, letting loose a fierce volley, at which Firmino did some kind of impressive acrobatics of the synchronised swimming variety to ward off the line. The ricochet fell to Harry Kane to finish. Kane was marked by Joe Gomez and Emre Can. Watching Liverpool on set-piece duties is like seeing a bunch of deck chairs snap shut simultaneously.

On the other end of the pitch- when the ball did reach the other end of the pitch – Coutinho was guilty of being dispossessed too easily and too often, Jordan Henderson and James Milner were ponderous, and Emre Can was (mis)used like a revolving door.

They say that lies have a way becoming lore with time. If Liverpool do not heed the signs, they will be fulfilling a self-fulfilling prophecy that has been on repeat for the past 26 years. If they do not heed the signs, Dejan Lovren will be a convenient martyr for the sins of his team, the management and the board of directors- a token sacrifice.

Five out of five of yesterday’s backline, and three out of three of Liverpool’s midfield featured players from the Brendan Rodgers era – a managerial term that was riddled with defensive faux pas. Madness, Einstein defined, is expecting different results while conducting the same experiment over and over again. ‘Mental’ is when you expect different results with the same players.

A solution can often be found in the way you state a problem. Juergen Klopp should – if he doesn’t want to keep undermining himself – state his problems to the owners explicitly, accompanied by a death stare and a throbbing vein. That ought to do the trick.

The January transfer window is drawing near. In the words of Shafi Ahmedzae, a friend and a fan from Afghanistan, “Liverpool, instead of trying to make cucumbers taste like sausages, must buy the bloody sausages!

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Srijandeep Das

Managing Editor, journalist, writer. On a mission to elevate Football Writing to an art form.