This is your very first exclusive piece of content from us at The Anfield Talk, and it’s brought to you by our very own Anthony (@AnthonyMarkMcav) on why we shouldn’t expect the world from van Dijk straight away, even though we might be tempted to.
In one of the most perfectly written moments of Merseyside Derby history, Virgil van Dijk headed in a wondrous winner against Everton in the 230th Friendly Derby. In front of the Kop. On his debut. Absolute scenes. The entire of Anfield rocking. Most certainly not standing and clapping… Thousands and thousands of loyal Reds flailing their arms in the air causing ructions in the King Kenny.
However, now is the time to be modest, to be collected and understand the situation. As great as van Dijk performed on his maiden voyage, it’s still going to take time for him to completely settle into the first team. That being said, I can’t really see it taking all too long, with the former Southampton man already marshalling the defensive line like he has been at the club for years.
It was really refreshing to see him direct traffic from the back and he absolutely controlled the defence, winning headers, making tackles and just being generally boss.
I hate to be the one to point it out, though. Virgil was completely static for Sigurdsson’s goal. He watched the ball roll past him and made absolutely no attempt to even try and block the shot. To be fair, I expected there to be mistakes from the big Dutchman and it was a glaring error that no-one seems to have mentioned yet, but I digress.
The point is that this kind of mistake could have happened at 0-0, then Everton go and win the game 1-0, and then he is put under intense scrutiny from the media and is ripped apart by Liverpool fans on Twitter. I have to urge you to not bite his head off if it happens again, especially in the next few weeks.
It’s time to be patient. His ability is undeniable and he really is one of the best centre-halves in football today. His class on the ball and his ability to command the defensive line has been sorely missed by Liverpool since the likes of Carragher and Hyppia played in the heart of the Liverpool team.
The defensive issues that Liverpool have had in the last 10 or so years has been stressful to say the least for Liverpool fans, from the decline of Martin Skrtel, to Daniel Agger leaving, Jamie Carragher retiring and now being stuck with Degsy Lovren and Joel Matip (Klavan is boss.)
We’ve been unable to cope with set-pieces, players driving at our back-line, passes in-behind and the like and we’re slowly seeing these problems be rectified, and van Dijk will be a HUGE part in seeing the true eradication of these issues, however, you have to understand that if he makes mistakes, he makes mistakes. Just remember that United payed £75m for Lukaku, who couldn’t hit the target if the goal was a mile wide; £89m for Pogba, who is basically a glorified donkey and still have Ibrahimovic in their squad, who talks about himself in third person. Odd one, him.
Going forward, we will probably see van Dijk start almost every game to get him up to scratch as quickly as possible. I imagine he’ll probably end up partnered with Joel Matip, despite the Cameroonian’s poor vein of form. Dejan Lovren will either get relegated to the bench or moved on in the summer as I still fully expect Jurgen Klopp to bring in another centre-back at the first true opportunity.
It’ll be strange to have two ball-playing centre-halves in the team, especially against the bigger sides that need someone to step and and rough up a striker or two. I’m not saying that van Dijk can’t do that, but he most certainly can, especially for this first six months at the club. Until Klopp brings in the appropriate man to partner the big Dutchman.
Patience and we will have one of our better centre-halves of all time on our hands here. A possible future captain at some point too, the way that he controlled, the way he dominated the game was truly, truly captain material. We’ve been yearning for some leadership, particularly at the back. No thanks to our goalkeepers.
VVD is only one piece of the puzzle though and it will take time for us to become defensively sound. I just look forward to the time where we have a solid goalkeeper, flanked by two solid centre-halves, it makes me very excited. Stay vigilant, Reds.