The Merseyside Derby, on 17th October 2020 between Liverpool and Everton, which traditionally is among the top 5 fiercest derbies of the world, saw a moment which took the rivalry between the clubs to another level. In the 6th Minute, Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, while trying to play the ball, flew in high and scissored his legs across Liverpool captain and Dutch defensive superstar Virgil Van Dijk who crumpled to the ground and damaged his anterior crucial ligament (ACL). This caused multiple widespread reactions in social media with Liverpool fans echoing their club legend Graham Souness statements to ban Jordan Pickford for the entire duration of Virgil’s injury.
Virgil’s injury has caused a massive headache to Jurgen Klopp in the defense with another dutchman Ki Jana However moving to Wolves on a permanent transfer and Dejan Lovren joining Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg on free transfer leaving Joe Gomez the only senior option at the center and probably, young Dutch center-back Sepp Van Der Berg being the potential center-back who can get a substantial amount of starting minutes. Klopp also has Fabinho to play in central defense and might opt to enter into the winter transfer market to sign a first-team ready Centre Back as Liverpool confirmed Virgil Van Dijk might be out for a longer time with ranging from 7-9 months potentially ending the Captain’s season.
Liverpool fans have been blowing this entire injury situation which is not an unusual sight with Virgil not being the first one to suffer an ACL Injury by even threatening to attack Jordan Pickford and his family. Even though the club’s manager has asked the fans to stop making this injury bigger than it needs to me along with the Football Association’s decision not to issue Red Card to Everton keeper with VAR not deeming the tackle as a Red Card offense. There were tons of support and best wishes pouring over from fans including the ones who supported him while playing for clubs before Liverpool such as Celtic and Southampton as well as the ones who held high praise for the Dutch defender and former Ballon D’Or nominee while some Liverpool supporters took to Twitter and other forms of social media to declare that they might stage a protest against FA’s decision to not issue a red card to Jordan Pickford. However, there is also an opinion among other football fans regarding Liverpool getting a taste of their medicine. In the 2019/20 Community Shield, former Manchester City player Leroy Sane suffered from the same injury inflicted by a tackle from Liverpool’s very own homeboy Trent Alexander Arnold, which made him stay away from the game for close to 9 months, didn’t draw such polarizing and aggressive reactions from City fans due to them being clearly aware of injuries being part of the game. Liverpool fans are treating this entire Virgil Van Dijk as if he is the only one who carried the entire team to Champions League and Premier League title victories, making the reds sounding like fans of VVD FC and not Liverpool Football club. The fans of any club whose player suffers from an ACL injury are entitled to show their disappointment towards happening of such an unfortunate incident to their players, but they are not entitled to pose threats to the rival player as well as their families. Other clubs have faced similar situations with their players notably the horrific injury story of Alf Inge Haaland which is said to be a career-ending one for him by Roy Keane in 1997 Manchester Derby, which in Roy Keane words was intentional and was awarded 5 match ban and something like this would have caused a massive uproar among fans in today’s age but Virgil’s injury incident isn’t even close enough to Haaland-Keane one.
In today’s day and age, football has become more intense and competitive with Premier League being on the top of the competitiveness with constantly changing top 6 position holder clubs and Liverpool, being the reigning champions are now in a situation which will test the club’s character and Jurgen Klopp’s ability to steer the club ahead with this setback. The fans, on the other hand, should really learn to accept injury as part of the game. It’s ridiculous to see some of the Liverpool fans, being concerned with Van Dijk’s form post returning to the ground after recovery, with the notion of football players being unable to play in the same tempo as they used to before the injury, have started putting out obituary memes stating Virgil Van Dijk (1991-2020), which as a fan is a prime example of disgraceful behavior after what the fans did to Manchester City’s team bus in 2018/19 Champions League Quarterfinals at Anfield. Virgil Van Dijk is not the first player to have suffered an ACL injury and certainly, not the last one. Even their Merseyside rivals suffered a similar fate with Andre Gomes injured due to a horrific tackle from Tottenham Hotspurs winger Heung Ming Son, but the fans kept their calm and wished for Andre Gomes speedy recovery. It is undeniable that the chances of Liverpool winning the league in the same fashion as it was in the previous year have suffered a massive hit, but this would also serve as an opportunity for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool players to prove that they are made of Champion material and can still be as fierce as they are in the race to the finish line. Also, this injury would serve as a lesson of being compassionate and kind in terms of not being an ass on social media and rejoice the misery of injuries of key players belonging to rival clubs.
In all fairness, my prayers and best wishes are with Virgil Van Dijk for his speedy recovery, and will be eagerly waiting to watch his solid defensive performances as a football fan.