Carlo Ancelotti has sent Everton Football Club’s best wishes to Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk who suffered a cruciate ligament injury during the Merseyside Derby last weekend. Everton and England #1 Jordan Pickford has come in for censure following his poor tackle on the Dutchman early on in the game, with the goalie and his wife deluged on social media by a torrent of abuse from Liverpool fans.
Speaking to evertontv earlier today, the manager defended Pickford while addressing this false narrative that the 26-year-old is a dirty player.
“To be clear, we are really sorry for the injury of Virgil van Dijk. Every one of us hopes he can recover soon and well.
“There was this contact with Jordan Pickford: it was mistimed contact. But the fact the Premier League is so fast, it is not so difficult to arrive a little bit later.
“Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.
“To say it was premeditated, and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this. Jordan is really sad, really disappointed [that Van Dijk is injured].
“It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football it can happen.”
van Dijk himself has had first-hand experience of being on the other side of an unfortunate challenge resulting in a serious injury when he collided with Gerard Deulofeu in February with the Spaniard only returning to action this last weekend after recovering from a cruciate ligament tear.
The tackle on Dominic Calvert-Lewin mentioned in BBC’s live commentary on the derby is below.
Again, there is no justifying a player getting injured after roughhousing his opponents, but any talk that Everton have been targeting Liverpool’s in the derby is sadly far off the mark and only propagates more vitriol from a deluded fanbase.