Liverpool new captain Virgil van Dijk has made some subtle changes to the team’s matchday preparations since inheriting the armband from Jordan Henderson in the summer.
Van Dijk lifted the lid on his decision to make changes to Liverpool’s pre-match routine after being named club captain on a permanent basis.
Van Dijk, 32, has been an influential figure for Liverpool ever since moving to Anfield from Celtic back in 2018 and inherited the captain’s armband after Jordan Henderson quit the Reds in order to pursue a lucrative switch to the Saudi Pro League with Al-Ettifaq in July.
The Dutchman has played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s strong start to the season, with Jurgen Klopp’s side losing just one of their opening nine Premier League games.
Van Dijk has also mixed up the matchday preparations for his teammates by introducing a pre-match huddle – an idea that stems from his time in Glasgow.
Explaining the reasons behind said change, Van Dijk said: “It was something that we did when I was a Celtic player. And I always liked it because I thought it set the tone for the game and it also gave the crowd a signal that we were ready to go.
“It can also help the atmosphere with it being so close to the match starting, so if our fans want to join in by building up the noise and adding to the sense of anticipation I certainly won’t complain, even if it makes it difficult for me to make myself heard.”
The Reds are just three points off the pace at the summit of the Premier League after their storming start to the season, which comes off the heels of a disappointing 2022/23 campaign.
Klopp’s summer transfer business has played a key part in the club’s resurgence, though, with new signing Dominik Szoboszlai impressing in the absence of Henderson.
While Van Dijk has donned the captain’s armband on previous occasions, taking the role on a full-time basis has humbled the veteran defender. Reds academy graduate Trent Alexander-Arnold has stepped up as vice-captain in the wake of Van Dijk’s promotion.
Van Dijk added: “This club has had some incredible captains over the years, leaders who would bring the best out of themselves and their team time and time again. So to be on the list with people like that is definitely not the kind of thing that I would have expected when I started playing.
“But the most important thing for me is that I am part of a team of leaders, individually, who find their own way to take responsibility no matter who is wearing the armband.”