A bit of perspective needed in the Jordan Pickford and Virgil Van Dijk saga

In my 20 or so years of watching English football I can’t recall such a fierce debate arising out of tackle, as the one we have seen over the last week.

Personally I was too young to remember the Keane Haaland incident, but I can remember questions surrounding the Ryan Shawcross tackle that broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg.

But nothing on the scale of this week’s war of words over the Jordan Pickford lunge on Virgil Van Dijk.

I’ve read a lot in recent days, from both sides. Liverpool saying players have had sleepless nights, those on the opposite mocking the response.

As we have all probably seen, one Twitter profile has been calling for mass protects and a null and void season. The authenticity of the account is yet to be determined, but there is a strong case to say it isn’t!

But after all sides have said various different things, I think everyone just needed to take a step back and have a bit more perspective on a story that strangely dominated headlines alongside Covid lockdowns and free school meals earlier this week.

There is no doubting the tackle was awful, clumsy and reckless. But to call it an assault or premediated was purely and simply wrong.

You’ve got a well known pundit, someone who was no stranger to a dangerous tackle or two, labelling it an assault, something that has only stoked an already irate set of fans.

And to say it is premeditated is purely and simply ridiculous. 99.9 per cent of footballers in the modern era don’t go on to the pitch to purposely hurt someone.

I’m not a footballer (well I was an average right back until I started working in a chip shop), I have no stats to back up that percentage, but I genuinely believe that to be true.

I even spoke to a former Premier League player this week, who himself was no stranger to a strong tackle back in his day.

Former Manchester City captain and current Connah’s Quay manager Andy Morrison said: “For me it is a dangerous tackle but there is no malice or intent whatsoever.

“It comes over his shoulder, he loses sight of the ball and as a keeper you throw yourself at the ball.

“It is very unfortunate the player has picked up an injury but there is no intent or malice whatsoever.”

He should have been sent off, but that it seems, is a matter for the convoluted VAR rules that surround the Premier League at the moment.

Pickford has spoken out since the Merseyside derby through his manager

It is an unfortunate injury. The public outcry from the red side of Merseyside is clearly larger due to the defender being arguably the world’s best defender.

But there needs to be some perspective on the whole incident.

Yes, it is a bad injury and one that no one wants to see. No one likes to see footballers badly injured.

I wish the Dutchman well although I don’t think he’ll be reading the back catalogue of Jonny Journo during his rehabilitation.

But in the overall picture, the outcry is unjustified.

The Dutchman isn’t the first person to suffer an ACL injury from a reckless tackle and certainly won’t be the last.

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