Virgil Van Dijk has admitted that his actions after been shown a red card in his side’s 2-1 win over Newcastle was out of character.
The Reds defender was dismissed early in the first half after being adjudged to have gone through the Bagpies’ Alexander Isak to win the ball early in the first half to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Referee John Brooks showed no hesitation in showing Van Dijk the first red card of his Anfield career, with VAR declining to overturn the decision. The center half reacted poorly, remonstrating with both the referee and the fourth official Craig Pawson and refusing to leave the pitch in a timely manner while he made his case.
While Dutchman only received a 1-match ban due to a non-violent sending off, the Liverpool star was quickly slapped with an improper conduct charge by the FA due the manner of his dismissal, and now awaits a decision on whether his ban will be extended.
“That was not typical for me,” Van Dijk admitted speaking on his outburst while on international duty. “I’ve never got [a red card] before at Liverpool, and I think only about four times in my entire career.
“But apart from that I still started the season well. I feel good and strong. I think it went well against Chelsea and Bournemouth. Despite the red card, the start was fine. I cannot wait to return.”
The 32-year-old was named club captain following the departures of Jordan Henderson and James Milner over the summer and has borne witness to a major revamping of the squad. The likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo have been the headline newcomers this summer; however Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and even youngsters like Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajetic have all arrived after the trophy-laden period of success players like Van Dijk became accustomed to at Anfield.
“We are in a kind of transition phase with Liverpool,” Van Dijk continued. “So, of course it’s nice to feel that the manager still considers me part of the new team, of Liverpool 2.0 so to speak. We spoke a lot in the first weeks of preparation. That showed confidence in me.
“I have spoken a lot with people around me in recent months. My wife is very important in this, but I also have people at the club with whom I talk a lot.
“It starts with being self-critical as a football player and always wondering how things can be better. At the end of last season, I already noticed that I was improving.”
A bright start to the season has seen the Reds take 10 points from 12 in league play as this latest incarnation of the Klopp’s Liverpool seek to forge their new identity and return to the pinnacle of European football once again.