John Arne Riise: Error- prone Lovren needs to step up for Liverpool
Riise says Liverpool's defence doesn't need overhaul but must 'work as a unit'
It was no surprise that Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp made Virgil van Dijk one of his top targets in the off-season, although the move collapsed even before a bid was made due to the club's alleged tapping-up of the Southampton and Holland defender.
Liverpool's defensive woes last term was the main reason for the collapse of their title challenge. They also had to wait till the last day of the season to secure fourth place with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.
The Reds conceded 42 goals - the most among the top-four teams - more than champions Chelsea (33), second-placed Tottenham Hotspur (26), and third-placed Manchester City (39).
Their defensive frailties were exposed notably in losses to lesser teams such as Burnley, Crystal Palace, Hull City and Bournemouth.
Former players and critics have suggested that Klopp needs to overhaul the defence to stand a better chance of winning their first league title since 1990, but ex-Liverpool left back John Arne Riise says the defence is "not that bad".
The 36-year-old, who was in Singapore last week to announce the Liverpool-Arsenal Masters match at the National Stadium on Nov 11, said that the Reds' backline has to learn to "work as a unit".
"The Liverpool defenders are not bad players, but they tend to play out of position (during matches)," said the former Norway international, who made 234 appearances and scored 24 goals for the Merseyside outfit from 2001 to 2008.
"They don't work as a unit sometimes and that has cost Liverpool too many points."
Central defender Dejan Lovren signed a new contract in April to keep him at Anfield until the summer of 2021, but Riise feels the Croatia international needs to improve to repay the club's faith in him.
Riise said: "I said on Twitter before that I don't think Lovren is a top, world-class central defender.
"He makes too many mistakes, and finds himself out of position too many times.
"We need a centre half, a world-class centre half.
"Hopefully, we can step up and be better this season.
"Lovren needs to step up, he needs to repay the fans' trust."
Riise did not want to speculate on who Liverpool should sign after the van Dijk saga but, instead, chose to highlight the quality of the fullbacks - Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner.
"I think Clyne at right back is brilliant," said Riise.
"But I would like to see more creativity, more assists and more goals from him.
"Milner is doing a very good job at left back despite him playing out of position and not being left-footed.
"We need a left back who can be offensive and create chances.
"That is modern football. You need to be fit to run up and down the pitch."
Klopp has achieved cult status among the Anfield faithful during his short time at the club, but Riise says the German will have to deliver trophies next season.
He said: "Juergen is a very likeable person, you know.
"People sometimes forget to look at the results, but every manager needs results.
"If you don't have results, it doesnt matter who you are or how likeable you are.
"You need results."