It was the end of a largely unbelievable season which turned into one of the most infamous in Premier League history. Unlikely title contenders Liverpool had stunned the world with electric football all year until the last three games. Rodgers came so close to achieving the holy grail, but he came up short in the 2013/14 season. In that very same campaign Southampton had been the surprise package with it being their second season back in the big time and finishing eighth with a club record amount of points whilst lots of players impressed.
Luis Suarez was out the door in the preparation for the new season after kicking up a fuss in the World Cup. He was sold for a huge fee which left Liverpool with money to spend in the transfer market. Nine players were signed on a permanent deal with eight being involved in the first team that season. Two of those seven players were a pair that impressed at Southampton and are only just leaving at the end of the 2019/20 season being part of the legendary group of players that ended the 30 years of wait.
Those two are Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana.
Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren – Photo credit: Getty Images
More of that season later. Let me take you back to the 2014/15 season. A distant memory now. No proper Suarez replacement was brought in and Rodgers was left with a job of integrating eight players into the first team. The season, to put it bluntly, was a failure. Rodgers looked out of his depth attempting to rebuild the squad and never knew his strongest team eventually finishing 6th, knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and ending the season with no silverware. Lovren and Lallana had lots of pressure on their shoulders with their relatively large price tags, for back then, as the pair cost £20 million and £25 million, respectively.
The pair showed huge amounts of promise, even if there was some criticism at times. Dejan Lovren played 38 games in all competitions and scored his first goal in a league cup win against Swansea. Unfortunately, the Croatian missed the crucial penalty in the Europa League round of 32 shootout against Besiktas. So, it would be fair to say it was a mixed first season for him personally.
Adam Lallana’s season could also be put in the same category even though there was plenty to shout about. Lallana had played a few more games than Lovren with 41 appearances in all competitions. Ten goal contributions was decent for his first season. He bagged his first goal at home against Anfield. A lovely little bit of skill and a one two with now best mate Jordan Henderson opened the space for him to fire the ball into the back of the net. His relentless pressing and quick feet caught the eye, but they would become even more noticeable in the next season as that would be when everything would change.
Rodgers started the 15/16 season in charge but would not last as Jurgen Klopp would take charge eight league games in. That was when the revolution began. Klopp’s first game was 0-0 against Tottenham and there is a famous picture of Lallana falling into the boss’s arms due to him running until his legs could not. He was perfect for Klopp’s way of playing. Adam Lallana had his own personal highlight from the season which emphasised how mental Klopp had made things, in a good way of course.
It was the last-minute winner in the 5-4 away victory against Norwich City. One of the craziest games in Premier League history. The celebration was significant. Lallana ran towards the touchline to see Klopp running towards him. It was the start of something special. The teacher and the teachers’ pet.
A match made in heaven. Lovren also had his own personal highlight and in the grand scheme of things it was far more significant than some believe.
It was the last-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund. The game looked lost at 2-0 down then at 3-1 down. But Klopp never stopped believing. A European night under the lights at Anfield. They used to be the best games ever. Klopp was the cheerleader on the side-lines that night. He needed the fans to turn form doubters into believers. On that night they did. Lovren headed in at the back post from a Milner cross. The crowd went insane. Jurgen Klopp had delivered and had shown the fans what he was all about. Some may think it was all in vein though as the run to the Europa League final ended in defeat but Anfield was a place to fear again and it was a place of belief.
Jurgen Klopp then started his rebuild in the 16/17 summer window. Signings such as Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Georginio Wijnaldum may have worried Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana but they were still central to the plans. They were key figures in charging Liverpool back to Europe’s elite. Lovren was integral in the backline with ten clean sheets to his name in the league against the likes of Manchester United and Everton whilst also chipping in with goals against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
Whilst as well as this Adam Lallana showed fans what he was all about. He would run his legs into the ground for this club on the pitch. He was the pressing trigger from midfield whilst also being the creative spark. During that season he was irreplaceable, and it was easy to see as when he was injured Klopp’s side looked nothing like the dangerous electric team that they were. Standout performances against Arsenal in the first game, Leicester City and Middlesbrough to name a few were outstanding. He finished with eight goals and seven assists. It would not be an understatement to say that without him Liverpool may have not finished fourth place qualifying for the Champions League.
That consequential Champions League campaign would tell the world that Liverpool were back and not going anywhere. Klopp’s revolution had taken another massive step and he added Salah, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain and then Van Dijk in January to his ranks. It was another memorable footballing year but unfortunately for Lallana injury thwarted that for himself. Lovren though was yet again key to it. He was one of the starting centre backs at the start of the season but a dreadful performance against Tottenham made plenty question him.
However, he came back stronger and it was an incredible corner turned showcasing his mental strength. After the Spurs game he would be involved in 22 league games that would get Liverpool back to back top four places and he even started captain in a 4-3 win against Manchester City. As well as the league form Lovren was pivotal in the run to the Champions League final playing the full ninety minutes in every game bar two. The two Manchester City games stood out the most as the Croatian did not let the most dangerous attack in world football score at Anfield and then at the Etihad he defended like his life depended on it. In the infamous final as well he kept Ronaldo quiet and even assisted Mane’s goal. He showed he could be depended on and he showed he cared stating that he and his teammates would go again the season after.
And that is exactly what they did. Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana would not play as big of a part that they wanted but they did play their part both getting a Champions League medal at the end of one of the best seasons in Liverpool’s history. The pair only played a combined 34 games but if it was not for them in the previous year’s Liverpool may have not been in that privileged situation.
The pair would stick around for one more year. The year that will be cherished by every Liverpool supporter for the rest of time. Lovren played a massive part in the side that went 27 games unbeaten charging towards the Premier League with mammoth performances in the wins against Tottenham, Manchester City and Everton.
Whilst Lallana reinvented himself to help the team. He turned himself into a number six meaning he could sit deep and dictate the play. He done it immensely in the League Cup against Arsenal and in the
FA Cup against Everton. Then played the two Club World cup games in that position running the game and he was easy on the eye for everyone to see. In the league he also done this successfully in arguably the most vital victory of the season away to Aston Villa. However, his biggest contribution in the charge to the title would have to be the huge goal away to Manchester United. He kept the unbeaten run going and silenced Old Trafford, it was so, so important.
So, when the pair went to get their Premier League medals on that Wednesday night they might not have been the most important throughout the whole season but when they played they showed how much they wanted and deserved it. They started the Klopp revolution together and they leave it together with Lallana joining Brighton and Lovren joining Zenit in Russia with four winners’ medals each.
Football is about moments which lead to bigger moments and without some of Lovren’s and Lallana’s major and little contributions throughout the past six years Liverpool might not have become European, World and English Champions.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is thankyou Dejan and Adam for the memories and bringing the Premier League to Anfield, it has been a pleasure.
Written by Elliot Thompson