Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s man of the season, took leadership to a new level on Saturday with the off-the-cuff tactical switch which effectively earned Liverpool their dramatic win.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s trusted dead-ball man, was all set to swing in the crucial 86th minute free-kick, when Van Dijk changed the script.
The newly-crowned player of the year, who had trotted into the box hoping to get on the end of the set-piece delivery, was seen on TV gesticulating frantically towards Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri that he wanted the Swiss sub to take the free-kick.
Gary Neville, Sky’s studio analyst, said: ‘Trent will take them from that side and they just follow instructions. You don’t often see leaders on a pitch alter things. For him to say “No, you’re not taking it — you’re taking it” is a risk.’
As it was, Van Dijk’s instinct was spot on with Shaqiri supplying the inch-perfect free-kick which Divock Origi nodded in.
Fellow TV analyst Graeme Souness added: ‘That looks like Van Dijk has got them the goal. Players taking responsibility, he’s made it happen.’