Virgil van Dijk calls players’ meeting as Liverpool’s top four hopes fade
MANCHESTER -- Virgil van Dijk cut a frustrated and despondent figure as he stood in the bowels of the Etihad Stadium following Liverpool’s 4-1 hammering at Manchester City.
In truth, it could have been a much heavier defeat on Saturday for Liverpool. Van Dijk knew it.
Liverpool are now eight points off the top four with 11 games to go and it would take something very special for them to overtake a whole host of teams between now and the end of the season.
Speaking to reporters after the game, the Dutch center back revealed that the Liverpool team were going to meet to discuss their slump which has seen them fall way off the top four pace after two-straight defeats.
“Tomorrow [Sunday] we’re going to have a meeting together and the turnaround is quite quick for Chelsea on Tuesday. Tomorrow is a big day,” Van Dijk said. “If you are losing the way we lost today there will definitely be some hard talk. That is absolutely normal. We are grown men. We will see tomorrow.”
What went wrong?
Even without the injured Erling Haaland, Liverpool were carved open by City’s fluid front five (Julian Alvarez, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan) as the Reds started well but faded badly.
The heavy defeat at City underlined just how much Liverpool have regressed this season, as Jurgen Klopp also cut a frustrated figure throughout as the side which pushed City all the way for the title over the past few years is nowhere to be seen.
“Tough afternoon, definitely. Very frustrated. That is the feeling,” Van Dijk said. “We are trying. Today it was frustrating. The first half was quite even, obviously a fanatstic goal from Mo [Salah]. They score a good goal as well. Second half the 2-1 was a big blow and then it was a very frustrating second half.”
Having a frustrating season of his own, Van Dijk was heavily criticized over the international break by Dutch legends Marco van Basten and Rudd Gullit for his recent displays and this was his response when asked about that.
“I’m just going to keep going and focus on my performances and try to play as good as I can,” Van Dijk added.
The usually unflappable Dutch defender gave the ball away on several occasions and didn’t seem to be able to cope with the movement of Alavrez behind him.
Is top four still a possibility?
As for Liverpool’s top four hopes amid a gruelling upcoming schedule -- they head to Chelsea in midweek and then host Premier League Arsenal next weekend -- Van Dijk isn’t exactly positive about their chances of returning to the UEFA Champions League next season.
“We will see,” Van Dijk said when asked of their top four hopes. “Game by game... First let’s recover and regroup and focus on Chelsea first.”
This really feels like Liverpool’s final chance to save their season and the meeting Virgil van Dijk and Liverpool’s other senior players are holding could be seen as key in salvaging some pride from a poor campaign by their own recent lofty standards.