Over the last few seasons, the captaincy at Liverpool Football Club has been a relatively unsurprising affair. Following the departure of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson was elevated to the full captaincy. Having worn the armband in Stevie’s absence, Henderson was a natural pick as the captain. When Klopp arrived in the winter of 2015, he inherited a squad that included other potential captains in Lucas, Sakho, Lovren, and James Milner. With the eventual departures of Sakho and Lucas, Milly found himself as the go-to vice captain last season.
The armband, then, has really only seen time with Hendo or Milner over the last season with either being pretty automatic picks for the first team. The stability at center midfield, even with Hendo’s lingering injury issues, being a gift to Klopp and his squad potential.
That stability in leadership, then, is what created an interesting wrinkle in the mid-week Champions League match against Red Star Belgrade. Because neither Henderson nor Milner were selected for the starting XI. And other players who’ve donned the armband in their absence - Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge come to mind - were left off the starting squad. Which meant that as the lineups were announced, fans were met with the pleasant sight of Virgil Van Dijk earning the captaincy.
In comments following the match, Jurgen Klopp indicated that the decision to gift the armband to Van Dijk came from the players.
“I decided Hendo and Millie will stay [as captain and vice-captain] – that was the 100 per cent logical thing to do and would have been like that as well if we would have voted. But I said for the next two, the players can vote and now two Dutch guys are in a row; the team decided No.3 for Virgil and No.4 for Gini Wijnaldum. That was a players’ decision.”
So, it looks like Hendo and Milly are, as expected, still the full and vice captains on the squad. But it’s an interesting and wonderful revelation that, in terms of the squad, the other two leaders that have emerged in this group are the two Dutchmen.
This decision must feel doubly satisfying as both Gini and Virgil were named leaders among a squad rife with them. Congratulations are in order then to our imperious central defender and our wonderfully silky central midfielder.