“I think I’d take his place!” – Jamie Carragher hits back at Virgil van Dijk

Jamie Carragher has criticised Liverpool’s defence as an “absolute shambles,” singling out Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez after the 5-2 loss to Real Madrid.

After the pick-me-up of 2-0 victories over Everton and Newcastle, the Reds started strongly in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

But following quickfire goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah, they collapsed, conceding five times at Anfield in Europe for the first time in the club’s history.

Too often they were too open, not aided by a gaping hole in midfield, but individual errors at the back and a lack of organisation certainly played into Real’s hands.

Speaking as part of CBS Sports’ coverage of the tie, Carragher described the defensive effort as an “absolute shambles” that has been clear all season.

“It’s not acceptable watching this season,” he said.

“We keep looking for reasons and excuses, but no, it’s nowhere near good enough.

“What makes me laugh, I’m not that bothered but Virgil van Dijk said I wouldn’t get in that back four about two months ago – I think I’d take his place at the moment!

“Some of the players there…Joe Gomez tonight, we’ve all had bad nights as players and maybe I shouldn’t kick someone when they’re down because I’m sure he’ll feel terrible.

“But we keep talking about midfield players Liverpool need – and that’s right – I think Liverpool need defenders as well.

“Because as I said, when they get exposed, they can’t defend.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected after Real Madrid scored the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his analysis, Carragher dismissed suggestions earlier in the week that Liverpool were back to their former glory as “absolute nonsense,” admitting “that’s why I was cautious before the game.”

“This Liverpool defence now, who we’ve been told for years have got some of the best players in the world, can’t cope,” he continued.

“For years they’ve had a front six in front of them who’ve probably worked harder and smarter than any other team in world football.

“Now that’s gone it’s completely fallen apart.

“I keep, I wouldn’t say making excuses, that’s the wrong word, but because as a Liverpool fan – we absolutely adore this manager and team, and they’ve done so much for the club in the last four or five years – it hurts to say anything negative.

“But Liverpool are eighth in the Premier League, they’ve just been battered 5-2 in the Champions League.

“I know it’s Real Madrid, but these are the two teams who were in the final last year.”