Premier League • England

Top Liverpool star told to take criticism ‘on the chin’ but fully backed to come through ‘rough patch’

Liverpool centre-halves Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez

Noel Whelan has told struggling defender Virgil van Dijk that he has to take criticism from pundits ‘on the chin’ after Liverpool’s indifferent start to the new season.

Van Dijk has been hammered by some pundits for his below-par displays that have contributed in some way to a tough start to the new campaign for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

But speaking after the Reds’ 2-1 win over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, the Dutchman was quoted by the Daily Mail slamming ‘ex-football players, who are ‘saying a lot to get us down’.

Van Dijk admitted that Liverpool’s players are ‘not listening to the outside world’. However, he did state that he needs to improve his personal form this term.

Speaking after the Ajax victory, Van Dijk said: “I still think I need to improve and that’s fine. The only way to do it is to play the games, learn from the mistakes. Don’t listen to the outside world too much, speak to the people close to you.

“I’ve said it many times, we are all human beings and we all want to do as well as we can and the same goes for me. I know for a fact I can do much better, but we all can do better.

“And I feel very hurt if we concede goals and don’t keep clean sheets and I feel that responsibility. But that’s a good thing.

“I want to turn this season around not for myself, but for all of us associated with the club and we want to perform as good as we can.”

There has even been talk that the Reds are preparing a move for Van Dijk’s eventual successor.

However, Whelan has backed the Liverpool talisman to get back to his best form, and soon.

Class is permanent with Reds star Van Dijk 

He told Football Insider: “This is our job, to criticise or praise players. We’ve been there, done it. Now we’re sat in the armchair watching it.

“We all know what a great player he is. And the person who will be criticising him the most is himself.

“Players know when they’re not hitting the heights or if they’re having a rough patch.

“Unfortunately, this is what comes with football. If he’s having a great time, he’ll be praised – it’s a 50/50 thing.

“When you’re not playing well, the critics are going to come your way. And he needs to take it on the chin.

“He’s not having the best time right now, and he’d probably be the first to admit that.”

The Reds are not back in action until Saturday October 1 when they host Brighton at Anfield.

Sunday’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was postponed earlier in the week due to events surrounding The Queen’s funeral, which will take on Monday.

Klopp’s men are currently sitting eighth in the table after winning only two of their opening six Premier League games, with three draws and a defeat in that time.

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