Carlo Ancelotti insists suggestions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s reckless tackle on Virgil van Dijk was pre-meditated are ‘too much’.
The England No 1 has come in for criticism from all sides, with Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum continuing the attack earlier this week by suggesting the goalkeeper was ‘stupid’ and made the challenge without concern for the player’s welfare.
Ancelotti has dismissed that and said everyone at the club is sorry about Van Dijk’s knee ligament injury, which will keep him out for several months.
Carlo Ancelotti has defended Jordan Pickford (right) for his horror tackle on Virgil van Dijk
Ancelotti said everyone at Everton is ‘sorry’ that Van Dijk suffered knee ligament damage
‘To be clear, we are really sorry for the injury of Virgil van Dijk,’ Ancelotti told the club’s official website. ‘Every one of us hopes he can recover soon and well.
‘There was this contact with Jordan Pickford: it was mistimed contact. But the fact the Premier League is so fast, it is not so difficult to arrive a little bit later.
‘Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk.
‘To say it was premeditated, and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this. Jordan is really sad, really disappointed [that Van Dijk is injured].
Van Dijk was clattered by the Everton goalkeeper on Saturday and requires knee surgery
Van Dijk faces a number of months on the sidelines after sustaining the injury at the weekend
‘It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football it can happen.’
Liverpool were flabbergasted Pickford did not receive retrospective punishment from the FA and Wijnaldum said: ‘The way Pickford went in was completely stupid in my opinion.
‘I don’t believe he wanted to injure Virgil but the way he made the tackle he didn’t care about what happened after the tackle. It’s happened a lot in games against Everton.
‘In my opinion they take it too far in the games we play against them. I know it’s a derby and sometimes it goes over the top but it was too much. It was not the only tackle like that. Richarlison on Thiago was also a nasty one. That’s what annoys me the most.
Georginio Wijnaldum sharply criticised Pickford’s tackle on Van Dijk in the Merseyside derby
‘Accidents can always happen in football. You can be unlucky and injure someone but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable. It makes it even harder when they don’t get punished, in this case Pickford.’
Wijnaldum’s attack was supported by manager Jurgen Klopp.
‘A couple of days ago something happened which should not have happened in a football game,’ he said.
‘Both challenges were difficult to accept. It’s hard for us because Virgil is our boy. Usually, players try to play the ball but not in these two challenges.
‘In the last four years, we were the leader of the fair play table. We don’t get anything for that, it’s something people joke about. We were up there in both tables. You can play football without these kind of challenges.’
Liverpool are livid after Pickford’s lunge went unpunished with David Coote, the official overseeing proceedings at Stockley Park, failing to look at whether the goalkeeper should have been dismissed.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp stated both challenges on his players were ‘difficult to accept’
Remarkably, Sportsmail has been told Coote thought the offside — which he checked forensically — nullified what happened afterwards.
Liverpool are demanding urgent clarification on the PGMOL’s handling of the incident. Senior sources at Anfield claim the Premier League are more interested in briefing their version of events — which they also allege keeps changing — than talking with the club.
Liverpool insiders say they were told on Saturday that Coote was ‘too distracted’ by the offside check and therefore did not look at the possible red card for Pickford.
News of Pickford escaping a ban was met with disgust by some supporters who had hoped ‘justice’ would have been meted out given van Dijk’s likely long-term absence, but it now appears some posts have gone further which has caused the police to get involved.
The force investigating the tweets in question has vowed to bring those responsible ‘to justice’ and have warned those involved that they ‘are not beyond the law’.
England No 1 Pickford received abusive tweets which the police are now looking into
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: ‘We are currently investigating a number of offensive Tweets made in relation to two Everton footballers.
‘The language used in the Tweets is totally unacceptable and we are taking the reports extremely seriously.
‘Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit criminal offences such as making threats or committing a hate crime in doing so, are not beyond the law.
‘Detectives are making enquiries to identify the individuals who posted the Tweets and where we identify offences we will take action to bring those responsible to justice.’