Liverpool news: Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen agree on who’s to blame for Van Dijk form | Football | Sport
Home » Matches » Liverpool news: Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen agree on who’s to blame for Van Dijk form | Football | Sport
Liverpool news: Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen agree on who’s to blame for Van Dijk form | Football | Sport

Liverpool’s star defender Virgil van Dijk has struggled to maintain his form from previous years when he was regarded as the best centre-back in the world, as the Reds as a whole have faltered this season under Jurgen Klopp. Their latest Premier League defeat to Bournemouth brought the team back to reality after their 7-0 win over Manchester United, though the Netherlands man was blamed for the goal conceded to the Cherries.

Van Dijk was accused of switching off as Dango Ouattara was able to find Philip Billing to score the only goal of the game, in the latest of mishaps that have seen the Dutch defender criticised this season. However, both Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen feel that the blame lies with the rest of the team for Van Dijk’s disappointing campaign.

“I think there are phases in your career where things don’t go to plan but you look at the great centre-halves of years gone by, for instance John Terry, Jaap Stam, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Vincent] Kompany, Sol Campbell - the list goes on - I don’t remember those having a season off or big periods of the season where you have eight or nine games where it isn’t going well,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“The form of the team plays a part in that as well, it does have an effect, and that’s one thing I would say that gives grace to Virgil van Dijk - sometimes you’re as good as the team around you. You need the team to perform to be able to perform at your best and he hasn’t had a team around him performing in a way that would suit his style of play at the moment.”

While former Liverpool striker Owen believes that the drop-off in Liverpool’s pressing structure has had a knock-on effect at the back, where Van Dijk and the Reds’ other defenders have struggled to make up for the lack in intensity.

“When Liverpool are playing well they [the defenders] don’t really have loads to do,” Owen said. “They’re pressing from the front - how many times did you see Liverpool at their best winning the ball up at the top? The problem is they leave themselves exposed, we all know that, so it’s a difficult position to play if your team is not functioning well.

“He’s [Van Dijk] getting exposed all the time at the moment in one-on-ones and because he’s not dealing with it well then it’s getting worse and worse and worse. When Liverpool are playing really well you don’t notice that because he just mops everything up and he rarely gets caught.”

Ferdinand agreed with Owen and explained the opposition’s mentality against Liverpool. “That’s because the pressure up high, up the pitch, is so good that when the ball does come out it’s come out to one striker on his own who is isolated,” the United icon said.

“Two-v-one or he’s thinking I’ve got no chance with Virgil van Dijk and the ball is not in his favour. It plays into his hands.”

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