Owen Hargreaves Explains Why Virgil Van Dijk Won’t Fix Liverpool’s Defensive Woes

Owen Hargreaves Explains Why Virgil Van Dijk Won’t Fix Liverpool’s Defensive Woes
Sep 16, 2017

Liverpool News

After more calamitous and erratic defending cost Liverpool all three points in their opening UEFA Champions League Group E group stage match against Sevilla, fingers were once again pointed at manager Jürgen Klopp and his stubborn decision not to pursue another centre-back other than Virgil Van Dijk in the summer transfer window.

Whilst Liverpool fans continued to bemoan the fact that Dejan Lovren, who Van Dijk or any other central defenders would have likely replaced, made the mistake for the Spanish side’s opening goal, Owen Hargreaves believes that even the Dutchman “is not going to fix Liverpool.”

At first, it may seem like a shocking statement, especially when the current BT Sport pundit also believes that Van Dijk will “one day play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.” But, when explained it does make a lot of sense. The former Manchester United man believes that the blame lies firmly with Klopp’s playing philosophy and that even some of the greatest defenders ever would struggle in this current Liverpool side.

“I don’t care even if (Franco) Baresi, (Paolo) Maldini, all of them guys are there,” Hargreaves said. “If they were playing there as centre-backs, they would want a central midfielder in front of them and they would want their full-backs closer to them.”

“I would want to play, as a centre-back, where I was protected, where I had people in front of me. Van Dijk is not going to fix Liverpool. As good as he is and he’s one of the best and he’ll play for Barcelona or Real Madrid one day, in my opinion, he’s that good. I don’t care how good you are, you need a bit more protection.”

On reflection it seems like a fair point to make because as good as the likes of Alberto Moreno are going forward, defensively they leave the two-centre halves far too open. Gary Neville has consistently ridiculed the Spanish defender for not focusing enough on his primary job (to defend) and even said live on Sky Sports last season, “starting Moreno is like starting a match with eleven men.”

Hargreaves also went on to compare Liverpool’s full-back situation to that of Borussia Dortmund’s on Wednesday night vs Tottenham and how BVB’s downfall was defensively where they “virtually had two players back within 70 yards of their goal.”

There is no doubt Lovren should have comfortably cleared the ball with ease for Wissam Ben Yedder’s goal, but questions have to be asked of whether the full-backs can stop crosses coming into the box in the first place to relieve the pressure off the centre-backs.

If Klopp wants to solve this ‘defensive crisis’ he simply has to sacrifice his philosophy and sign an out-and-out defensive midfielder who will sit there and occupy the space in between the defence and the midfield; someone like Steven N’Zonzi, who Liverpool fans saw first-hand on Wednesday night.

It’s undeniable that the addition of Van Dijk would improve the Reds defence significantly, but the current Southampton player alone won’t be able to cut out these inexcusable mistakes that are becoming the ultimate catalyst for Liverpool’s league title shortcomings. If England’s second most successful club really wants to return to it’s former glory, Jürgen Klopp will almost certainly have to alter his training philosophy.

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