Virgil van Dijk has said Darwin Nunez needs to control himself after being sent off for violent conduct on his Premier League debut for Liverpool. The Uruguayan international who tweeted an apology on Wednesday night, it was “really stupid” to leave Liverpool with 10 men against Crystal Palace according to Joachim Andersen, the defender who took Nunez’s header at Anfield on Monday.
Liverpool, without strikers Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota through injury, will lose their main signing of the summer for Premier League games against Manchester United, Bournemouth and Newcastle. It won’t be available until the Merseyside derby at Everton on September 3. In a terse tweet, Núñez said: “Apologies to everyone at Liverpool. I’ll be right back.”
Van Dijk said the 23-year-old, the first Liverpool player to be sacked for violent conduct during Jurgen Klopp’s tenure, had the backing of his team-mates but must make sure the crazy moment does not happen again.
“He definitely has to control himself,” the Liverpool defender said. “He has to fend for himself. [and] he has to be aware that these things can happen, especially in the Premier League.
“Obviously he was disappointed and probably also with himself. But it is a learning curve and we will always support you. He knows it shouldn’t happen again and hopefully it will.”
Nunez will undergo an extended pre-season training program during his suspension with Klopp planning to have a chat with the striker about his loss of self-control. The striker headed Andersen twice in the 57th minute of the 1-1 draw and the Palace defender claimed that Núñez was easily annoyed.
Andersen said: “Throughout the whole game I sat very close to him, teased him a lot and did well against him. I think that’s why he was mad at me. He headbutted me, the first, into a cross, and I told him he shouldn’t do that. I was angry with him. Then he did it again, which to me is really stupid, so it’s a clear red card.”
Liverpool have failed to win their first two games of a Premier League campaign for the first time since 2012-13 and are already four points behind Manchester City. Van Dijk knows Liverpool will be written off prematurely after the disappointing start, but says they can ignore the noise outside and take heart from their display against Palace.
The Netherlands captain said: “I don’t want to blame different things. We want to do well, but it’s fun because we played Community Shield and we won and everyone was saying a lot of other things and now we’ve drawn twice and people will write us off. But that is the outside world and we focus on what we can influence and that is our performance.
“It was, especially with 10 men, a great performance. We pressured them, we made them nervous, we let them kick long balls. That’s something we have to learn from, keep going, but we want to win and we’ll look for that in the next game.
“We put pressure on them, we took a lot of risks because we had to score the equalizer and we hoped to get the winning goal. But we shouldn’t come with 10 men, it shouldn’t happen.”
Luis Diaz scored a superb equalizer for Liverpool four minutes after Núñez was sent off and Van Dijk believes the Colombian international has much more to offer this season. “Luis is a fantastic player,” he said. “It’s something we need and he provided that special bit of action and he can be so much better.