Craig Burley claimed Virgil van Dijk was “clever” about the criticism after the defender hit out at pundits who continue to criticize Liverpool’s players amid a difficult start to the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side edged past Ajax thanks to an 89th-minute header from Joel Matip as they took their first three points of their Champions League group at Anfield on Tuesday afternoon.
Van Dijk, who along with all his teammates was heavily criticized for his performance in their European opener – a 4-1 thrashing against Napoli – told BT Sport that such pundits were only meant to dampen Liverpool’s morale.
Virgil van Dijk has hit out at pundits criticizing Liverpool’s players amid a poor start to the season
The Reds earned their first Champions League points thanks to Joel Matip
He said: “Coming back from the horror show in Naples it was very important to show a positive reaction. It’s not easy to turn it around, but it’s a step in the right direction… It was very important to win in the international break.
“We don’t listen to the outside world. A lot of former footballers, who know exactly what we’re going through, say a lot to get us, but we know that the last game was very bad and this was a step in the right direction.’
After the explosive interview, ESPN’s Craig Burley claimed it suggested the defender was “smarted” by the criticism and couldn’t handle the backlash despite being praised in the past.
After the match, the defender claimed the pundits were only aiming to dampen Liverpool’s morale
“Coming off the back of that thrashing in Napoli, there’s been a lot of criticism of Alexander-Arnold and the back four, including Van Dijk,” Burley told ESPN FC. He started talking about former players and how they have forgotten.
“I see here a guy who had enough praise to get him to the moon and back, and rightly so because he was mostly brilliant, but in this period he wasn’t great himself and wasn’t” He played the quartet very well , seems to escape criticism a bit.
“I thought it was quite an interesting interview, not that many words were said, but it was just his reaction.
“I mean Des Kelly on BT didn’t even ask him about the review, there was no question about it, he just mentioned it. It’s so clearly on his mind.
ESPN’s Craig Burley claimed it suggested the defender was “smart” by the criticism
He also said, “we don’t pay attention to what is said outside these walls”, clearly he does!
“It was just interesting to me as a guy who’s basically had all the platitudes in the world and Liverpool have hit a rocky road that he’s been involved in, and he’s obviously been smarted by that criticism, no doubt. for this.’
However, Burley’s team-mate Nicol claimed Van Dijk had every right to be “stingy” as the former Liverpool right-back hoped the Dutchman’s reaction would help him get back to his best.
Nicol said: “When you’re playing you don’t understand what’s going on in the media and if someone, whether it’s in the paper or on TV, criticizes you, you don’t like it. Of course you are prickly.
Partner Steve Nicol hoped the Dutchman’s reaction would help him get back to his best
“Craig was right about what he said about the praise, but it’s hard in the cold light of day when you’re playing to go, ‘well, I’ve had a lot of praise, so I could take the criticism. ”
“You’re just not wired that way. If someone criticizes you, you want to take them back and you want to show it to them every time.
“So I guess in a way he could help Virgil van Dijk. Because he clearly turned up his nose. And you know what, if that gets him back as the Virgil van Dijk we’ve been praising, then that’s fine by me.
Klopp’s side, whose defeat at Napoli was their last game after the weekend’s Premier League games were canceled following the Queen’s death, opened the scoring through Mohamed Salah, with Mohamed Quds equalizing before late Matip winner.