Van Dijk leadership quality questioned after defeat

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Virgil van Dijk is ‘not a real leader’ following criticism of the Liverpool centre-back.

Netherlands captain Van Dijk was slammed by Dutch pundits and legends after the Netherlands were defeated 4-0 by France this week.

Dutch legend Marco van Basten was among his critics, with boss Ronald Koeman urged to strip Van Dijk of the captaincy.

But while Murphy agrees he’s not a great leader in a traditional sense on the field, he hit back at critics of the Reds star and said you don’t have to be like Roy Keane, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand to be a good skipper.

“I’m not so sure he’s a real leader. He’s a brilliant footballer, but no,” Murphy told White and Jordan this afternoon.

“I don’t think he’s somebody you watch and immediately think he’s demanding of others and shouting and kicking people up the backside and organising.

“I think that helps with perception better, in terms of people being able to see leadership qualities in that way, but a more trained eye would suggest that he is capable of being a leader and talking because he always seems to benefit the defenders around him when they play alongside him at Liverpool.

“He’s a calm character, he’s not particularly aggressive in the way he defends, he’s not someone who likes fighting people and going through the back of people and physically getting involved – he uses his brain.

“It’s not in his nature to be a John Terry type. Rio [Ferdinand] would bark at people, Rio was a real leader, especially more on the eye. But I played with David Beckham and he was a brilliant leader without shouting at anyone, just leading by example. You don’t have to have those qualities.

“Van Dijk is not an obvious leader. The fact Jordan Henderson is the captain of Liverpool… Henderson is more of a leader. That’s why he’s captain.

“The Netherlands didn’t lose this game 4-0 because of him. Look at the Netherlands team that was beat by France – should he have the armband before Georginio Wijnaldum, Nathan Ake, Memphis Depay? Yes. When you break down the Dutch squad, he’s the obvious candidate and he’s won everything.

“He’s very well thought of and respected as a guy, as well, and that helps because it means the other lads will go to him.

“By Van Basten coming out and making those observations, Van Dijk isn’t going to change who he is. Part of his quality is his calmness and his class.”


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