Mikael Silvestre column: Victor Lindelof and Dejan Lovren embarrassing defensive mistakes a case of mind over matter

Mikael Silvestre 21:39 23/10/2017
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  • I went back and watched Victor Lindelof and Dejan Lovren’s mistakes, looked at the explanations and I think they’re a result of the same thing.

    In Lindelof’s case, he was involved in the first Huddersfield goal. It wasn’t his fault as such but he’s in the mix as Tom Ince has turned him right, left and right again. He’s almost clueless as to what’s going on before Aaron Mooy scores the rebound.

    Five minutes later he’s misjudging a long clearance by the goalkeeper and Laurent Depoitre scored again for Huddersfield.

    Never mind him missing the header, it was a bad decision in the first place because even if he manages to direct the ball to David De Gea, it’s dangerous for the goalkeeper; the right decision was to clear the ball.

    It’s psychological, as a defender you’re still thinking about your involvement in the first goal, ‘How could I have coped better?’ Lindelof didn’t live the moment, he was in the past and that’s why he didn’t make the right decision in the build-up to Depoitre’s goal.

    For Lovren, it’s similar. On the first Tottenham goal, he’s tried to play Harry Kane offside but, as a left-sided centre-back, was wrong-sighted and couldn’t look along the line to check where his team-mates were. He had no clue what was happening behind him, wasn’t even looking, just assuming the guys would be with him in line and Kane ran free to score. The only defenders in that situation who could try and play offside were Joel Matip and right-back Joe Gomez.

    Just like Lindelof that was early in the game and eight minutes later he’s thinking about what happened and how could he have stopped it.

    Huddersfield Town's Belgian striker Laurent Depoitre (L) turns to celebrate after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester United at the John Smith's stadium in Huddersfield, northern England on October 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Lindsey PARNABY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

    Lindelof was at fault for Huddersfield’s second.

    Hugo Lloris’ throw caught him by surprise as he wasn’t concentrating, was dwelling on his mistake and made another one for Tottenham to score again.

    It has happened to me, maybe not two consecutive mistakes, like Lovren, but sometimes when I was beaten in a challenge, I would think about and then maybe later I wasn’t ready for a similar situation.

    I became conscious of that when I was at Manchester United around 2005 so started working with a mental coach.

    In too many games, at the beginning of the first half I was like a tractor, it took me time to get into the game, my concentration at the game wasn’t full on.

    So I started thinking about how I could improve. I hired someone and we worked together for two years and after that I was there, every moment. I would stay in the game.

    Some players don’t like to work with mental coaches but it helped me be more consistent.

    The overall message was: “live the moment”, you have to move on – mistakes, celebrations, everything. Only think about three things: the ball, the opponent and your team-mates.

    Jurgen Klopp’s decision to substitute Lovren after 31 minutes should help him and he’s an experienced guy, he knows what is required. But it also depends on how Klopp handles it behind closed doors. The one-on-one chat he has with Lovren will be important. But it’s down to the player to take responsibility.

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Dejan Lovren of Liverpool and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur battle for possession during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on October 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

    Lovren was given the runaround by Kane.

    We played West Ham in November, 2005 soon after when George Best passed away. I got substituted after 37 minutes, not because I was directly involved in conceding a goal, but Sir Alex Ferguson felt I wasn’t in the game. Which was true. I had too much energy, I was pressing everywhere and got dragged into the emotion of the occasion. After 37 minutes, I look at the board and I’m like, “what the hell?” You feel ashamed, you feel angry but there is only one reaction – you work harder.

    Lindelof will get a second chance because of the amount of games Manchester United have this year. But fans need to be patient.

    When I watch him play, I feel Victor needs to work on his aggression. This isn’t Portugal anymore where he can relax in some games.

    He needs to be more proactive on the field and grab the opportunity with two hands.

    The club have invested a lot in him and he needs to look forward, realise he’s in a really good position to establish himself at United.

    The competition between Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Lindelof is also a good one. Jose Mourinho has so many options and it should help keep Lindelof focused.


    Vincenzo Montella’s AC Milan are struggling in Serie A and the coach is under a lot of pressure but in his case, the football aspect is secondary.

    How much longer he gets in the job really depends on the financial risk the owners have placed on not making the Champions League

    If reaching the top four is an absolute must, then they may have no choice but to sack him, but if it’s not necessary then they will give him more time, which they should.

    There were so many transfers into the club over the summer – too many, in my opinion – and they have essentially started from zero.

    As a new player into a club, you have to adapt to the coach, the city, the language, the history. And then on the field, you have to build relationships with your team-mates.

    You won’t know what sort of players they are; their strengths, weaknesses, their tendencies in certain situations. It’s going to take time. Even with a full pre-season.

    This is the scenario with just one new player, now times that by seven or eight for Milan.

    And then when the results aren’t happening, doubt starts to creep into everybody’s mind, and that makes Montella’s job even harder.

    He needs more time. Patience is important… if Milan can afford it.

    MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 22: AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella watches the action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Genoa CFC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 22, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

    Under pressure: Vincenzo Montella.