DANNY MURPHY: It’s not personal, but reckless Jordan Pickford should not play against Southampton after his awful challenge on Virgil van Dijk
- Jordan Pickford has escaped punishment for his awful tackle on Virgil van Dijk
- The Liverpool defender requires knee surgery and will be out for some time
- Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa is a perfect managerial fit at Leeds United
I don’t think Jordan Pickford should be playing at Southampton on Sunday while Virgil van Dijk is starting a long rehab.
It’s not personal against Pickford — and I’ll take this opportunity right off the bat to totally condemn the trolling and abuse he’s received — but my belief is that any bad tackle or dangerous play should always be punished, whether on the day or retrospectively.
It sends out the right message to the whole football community that you shouldn’t get away with anything reckless. And that goes for any player who made the challenge Pickford did.
Virgil van Dijk suffered cruciate ligament injury last weekend after Jordan Pickford’s tackle
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl insists Pickford should not be facing his side on Sunday
He didn’t mean to put Van Dijk out of action for months but it was a dreadful intervention and I can’t understand for the life of me why he has escaped any sanction.
In fact, not giving him a three-match ban has been detrimental to Pickford himself because the sense of injustice — the authorities have not done their job — has put him in the firing line.
It’s a difficult one for Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose job is to look after the welfare of his players rather than police the whole of football.
Pickford has come under scrutiny for his challenge which left Van Dijk needing knee surgery
He has said he will play Pickford on Sunday and I am sure the player himself wants that because, in difficult situations, being on the pitch is the one place you can feel most peaceful, particularly without fans in the stadium.
As a manager, I might have been tempted to leave Pickford out just so he could escape scrutiny and spend time with his family. But the truth is the decision shouldn’t have been left up to Ancelotti. If the referee missed the incident on the day, they should have reviewed it and given an immediate three-match ban.
Bielsa a perfect fit
Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds are a perfect fit. He must feel a tremendous sense of pride in the way Leeds United have achieved success, not just getting promoted and making such a fine start to the Premier League, but how they’ve done it.
A significant part of the squad were already at Elland Road when he arrived and he has been able to improve them. That must give him real satisfaction and, given he’s been well backed and well supported by the club, I’m sure he’s not consciously looking for the next step now his stock is high.
At the same time, it would be naive to think the biggest clubs aren’t looking at what Bielsa is doing and being impressed. The style he has imposed on this Leeds team, which we saw in Friday night’s 3-0 win at Aston Villa, is something you could transfer to clubs who are more established.
Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa are a perfect fit, but could Manchester City come knocking?
The high tempo Leeds play at and the fitness that requires is more similar to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool than Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and the way he has dealt with someone like hat-trick hero Patrick Bamford shows Bielsa is all about finding the right role for a player.
If Guardiola leaves at the end of his contract next summer, would City consider Bielsa when they could go after any manager in the world? He would be a contender. His age, 65, and unorthodox approach might be seen as taking a risk but his experience of the Premier League this season would put him on the list.
The style he has imposed on this Leeds team is something he could transfer elsewhere
Bamford has proven the doubters wrong and the way they coped without Kalvin Phillips in midfield is testimony to how Bielsa’s system is so understood by the whole squad.
It is another similarity with Klopp, who can rotate his midfield between Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, Thiago, Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the team still plays the same way.