‘Liverpool’s defence an absolute and utter shambles!’ – Nicol slams Van Dijk and co after Leeds struggles

Patrick Bamford Virgil Van Dijk Leeds Liverpool 2020-21
The former Reds star is looking for collective improvement at Anfield after alarming issues at the back were exposed in an opening day fixture

Liverpool’s defence was an “absolute and utter shambles” against Leeds, says Steve Nicol, with the Reds legend urging the Premier League champions to pull together as a unit and avoid conceding goals “for fun”.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have been a model of consistency across the last two seasons.

Much of their success has been built from the back, with big-money deals for Dutch centre-half Virgil van Dijk and Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson considered to have plugged long-standing leaks.

The Reds looked far from watertight, though, in their most recent outing as newly-promoted Leeds breached them on three occasions at Anfield.

Liverpool found a way of getting over the line, with an opening day hat-trick from Mohamed Salah helping them to a thrilling 4-3 win.

There are, however, issues for Klopp to address after being given a serious scare by the Whites, with Nicol concerned by gaping holes and costly errors that have crept back into the Reds’ game.

He told ESPN FC: “You've got Liverpool's backline trying to push up, almost on the halfway line.

“That's not 'well it was one of those days' type of things, that is a huge, fundamental problem.

“It doesn't get any more basic than your backline closing when there's no pressure on the ball. It really is a huge problem if you get it wrong.

“When you get it wrong you see what happens and if you don't fix that, you're in big, big trouble defensively.”

The former Reds defender added, with an uncharacteristic mistake from Van Dijk allowing Patrick Bamford to net for Leeds at one stage: “I don't care how good you are as individuals, you have to defend as a group and they're not defending as a group.

“I'm not talking about what's in front of the backline, I'm talking about the actual back four. Whatever the back four did, they did it together last year when they were successful. That's the key to it all.

“Whatever is going on in front of them, whether it's good or bad, they're the backline, it's their job to be the backline, they're the last line of defence.

“What they did well was they did every single thing together. They were up and down the field, whatever it was, together.

“What they're doing now is they are all over the place. It's an absolute shambles and it's huge. You get this wrong and you're going to lose goals for fun.

“When you start thinking about yourself and not the line, then you see what happened. Absolute and utter shambles.”