Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp raved over Virgil van Dijk for the player's "fairytale" debut after the defender scored the winner in a 2-1 FA Cup victory over Everton on Friday. Van Dijk, who signed for a reported £75million in January, headed in a dramatic 84th-minute winner on debut at Anfield. Klopp lauded the Netherlands international, revealing he only decided to hand Van Dijk his debut on game day.
Klopp changed his mind on fielding Van Dijk
"Nice one [Van Dijk's debut]. A fairytale in a world with not a lot of fairytales anymore, so I think something like that is quite special," the Reds boss told reporters in his post-match press conference. "It was a difficult decision to make. To be 100 per cent honest, the first plan was not to start him but then Dejan [Lovren] and Raggy [Ragnar Klavan] played a lot of games in the last few weeks, so I changed my mind this morning [Friday]. And it helped. They [had] little muscle issues, but could have played with a little higher risk than usual. I made the decision this morning that Virgil will start – and obviously it was a good idea in the end because the whole game was good."
James Milner's first-half penalty was cancelled out by Gylfi Sigurdsson before Van Dijk headed in an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain corner. Despite Van Dijk's huge price tag, Klopp said the 26-year-old had exceeded his expectations. "He was much better than I thought, to be honest, because it's difficult, it's always difficult," he said. "I said before the game that my expectations are easy to reach because I know how good he is and so I only want him to show that. I still know that he's a human being and things can happen that he can show it tonight, things like this happen. But we all know that expectation can lead to pressure and then you look a little bit different than you look usually, and he obviously could stand the pressure."