Liverpool tradition broken in Everton win as painful Van Dijk incident lingers

Liverpool V Everton: Pictures

Liverpool fans broke a long-standing tradition on Saturday before the Merseyside derby as they failed to give Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford a warm welcome before kick-off, having previously applauded opposition stoppers on their arrival to Anfield. The Reds faithful clearly still harbour feelings of resentment after the England man’s incident with Virgil van Dijk in 2020 that left the defender with a long-term injury.

Pickford apologised after his mistimed tackle caused the Liverpool defender to tear his anterior cruciate ligament, having collided with the Dutchman inside Everton’s penalty area. The incident went unpunished by referee Michael Oliver. Van Dijk was ruled out for a year after the horror tackle, which the 32-year-old admitted made it easier to overcome mentally. “My injury was caused by a kick,” he said a few months after the challenge from Pickford.

“It wasn’t a moment when nobody was around. Actually, that made it a bit easier mentally to go all the way. Sometimes it is at the back of your mind, but it is not something that really concerns me. It’s certainly not like I’m afraid to go into a duel.”

Van Dijk has since turned down the opportunity to discuss the incident further, but Liverpool fans wanted to show their feelings towards Pickford as instead of the customary positive reception, the Everton goalkeeper was roundly jeered by the Kop as they put their tradition to one side.

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Pickford was at the opposite end of the pitch to the Kop for the initial kick-off, but after emerging for the second half and the teams swapped sides it was clear from the loud boos that Liverpool supporters have not forgotten how he ended Van Dijk’s season three years ago.

Pickford’s day did not get any better, as Mohamed Salah put two past the goalkeeper in the second half and he bemoaned the decision not to award Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate a second yellow card for a foul on Beto.

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Ashley Young had been given his marching orders in the first half for two fouls on Luis Diaz, but Konate avoided another caution despite being pulled up for his trip on Beto, much to Pickford’s frustration.

“It’s a tough day,” Pickford told Premier League Productions. “It’s always going to be tough to come to Anfield as an Everton player. We gave it our all, worked hard and decisions definitely didn’t go our way — no shock there.”

When asked which decisions he was referring to, Pickford replied: “It’s not rocket science to work it out, I think the whole world will know. We can’t comment too much because you will just get done anyway. A bit of dialogue would be nice and less arrogance would be nice as well.”

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