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“It was nonsense, absolute nonsense” – Ex-Liverpool man takes a dig at Van Dijk

“It was nonsense, absolute nonsense” – Ex-Liverpool man takes a dig at Van Dijk

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By Martin Graham | 23rd Feb 2023

Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has taken a dig at his old club for their shambolic performance in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in the UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool hosted Real Madrid in a replay of the 2021/22 Champions League final on Tuesday evening. The match was the first of two round of 16 ties which would decide either side’s progression in the 2022/23 competition. The Reds had suffered from poor form for most of the season, but had enjoyed a form of resurgence in the last two weeks, leading to the fans developing some confidence in the team ahead of the rematch against the UCL defending champions.

The highly anticipated game started off with Liverpool on the front foot. The Merseysiders scored two in under 15 minutes, leading to commentaries on their possible return to their best form. It was a different story by the end of the game, however, as Real Madrid scored five in response to going down 2 – 0 in the first 15 minutes.

It was a game that characterized the Reds’ season so far, and ex-Liverpool defender turned pundit Carragher criticised the team harshly, paying special attention to the leadership of Netherlands international Virgil Van Dijk.

Commentating on the game for CBS Sports, the former England international said: “It was nonsense, absolute nonsense that Liverpool were back in the last two games and that is why I was cautious before the game.

“They played against an Everton team, one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a derby game from an Everton team who did nothing. I was at the Newcastle game as well – Newcastle with 10 men created chances. If they’d had 11 men they’d have got back to 2-2, I’m convinced about.

“Because Liverpool all season have been an absolute shambles defensively. Now this team had a great defensive record last season, but we know the midfield doesn’t have the energy anymore, the attacking players in the front three don’t press, or don’t have the cohesion, of Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane, they’re new to it Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.

“So this Liverpool defence now, who we’ve been told for years have some of the best players in the world, can’t cope.

“For years they’ve had a front six in front of them who probably worked harder and smarter than any other team in world football. And now that’s gone, it’s completely fallen apart.

“I keep… making excuses is probably the wrong word but, as a Liverpool fan, we absolutely adore this manager and team and they’ve done so much for the club in the last four or five years, it hurts you to say anything negative because they’ve given you so much.

“But Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League. They’ve just been battered 5-2 in the Champions League. I know it’s Real Madrid, but these are the two teams who were in the final last year. It’s not acceptable what we’re watching this season.

“And we keep looking for reasons and excuses, but, no, it’s nowhere near good enough.

“What makes me laugh – I’m not that bothered by it – but Virgil van Dijk said I wouldn’t get in that back four about two months ago. I think I’d take his place at the moment!

“Some of the players there, Joe Gomez… I mean, look, we’ve all had bad nights as players – and maybe I shouldn’t kick someone when they’re down because I’m sure he feels terrible right now – but I think Liverpool, we keep talking about midfield players they need and that’s right, but I think Liverpool need defenders as well because when they get exposed they can’t defend.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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