Slaven Bilic has leapt to the defence of Liverpool’s under-fire defender Dejan
Lovren, as West Ham prepare to host the Reds.
Lovren’s performances have come under scrutiny this season, and the Croatian was substituted 31 minutes into Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat to Tottenham last month after he was at fault for Spurs’ opening two goals.
The former Southampton centre-half has also been the subject of online death threats made to his family.
The West Ham manager, who handed Lovren his international debut in 2009 when he was Croatia boss, has condemned the internet trolls.
“Fortunately that is a minority of people,” said Bilic ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter at the London Stadium.
“Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I’m naive, but I think even those people who did it didn’t mean it seriously.
“They weren’t joking – it’s a bad, bad way of expressing that they’re not happy with the way he played.
“But that shouldn’t be there. Those people should be ashamed of themselves, big time.”
Since being substituted a fortnight ago at Wembley, the 28-year-old has missed a Premier League victory over Huddersfield and a Champions League win over Maribor through injury.
But Bilic insists Lovren has unfairly singled out and has no doubts that West Ham will be facing a quality defender if he features at the London Stadium.
Bilic has asked West Ham fans to be patient with the cautious approach to Saturday's game against Liverpool
“I’m very, very disappointed with the treatment he has received,” said Bilic.
“He’s a very good player. He’s more than a centre-back. He never hides on the pitch. He’s always there.
“A lot of mistakes, sometimes he’s making up for somebody else’s mistakes. It’s not easy to play centre-back at Liverpool because of where they stand.
“Take Real Madrid against Spurs, and they have probably the best centre-back in the world in Sergio Ramos.
“But when he’s exposed on such a big space against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, he doesn’t look good. It’s very hard to play centre-back.
“Lovren’s a really good lad, an honest lad. He never asks for any excuses.
“I hope it isn’t going to be on Saturday but sooner or later he’s going to score a goal like he scored against Borussia Dortmund and he’s going to be a hero again.
“That’s the nature of society. The people want it straight away, that want it now and they want it tomorrow. But I think Lovren is very strong in his head.”