Van Dijk admits form is down but upbeat after Liverpool win over Ajax | Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has admitted his form has dipped this season but believes Liverpool showed signs of recovery in their Champions League win against Ajax.

The Netherlands captain has been hurt by Liverpool’s recent performances and described last week’s defeat by Napoli as “absolutely shocking” and “unacceptable”. Jurgen Klopp’s side responded with a much-improved display and a valuable win against the Dutch champions on Tuesday and Van Dijk claimed it could be a platform for personal and collective improvement.

“I can do a lot better and I think this was a good step in the right direction for all of us,” said the defender. “It’s like: if you perform well as a team, everyone will do well if you’re in the same direction.

“If we do well, obviously I get praise and if we don’t, then no, but I still think I have to improve. The only way to do it is to play the games, learn from the mistakes, don’t listen too much to the outside world, talk to the people close to you. We are all human and we all want to do the best we can and the same goes for me. I know I can do better – but we can all do better.

“I feel really hurt if we concede goals and don’t keep a clean sheet and I feel that responsibility, but that’s good. I want to turn this season around not for myself, but for all of us who are associated with the club and want to perform as well as we can. Fortunately for us this season will be so long with so many matches and competitions. let’s go enjoy it. We will still have hard times, but why not enjoy it?”

Van Dijk admits there was nothing to enjoy the Napoli defeat apart from the reaction against Ajax. He said: “We were absolutely blown away that night. We know – it hurts us all, it hurts me. We talked about it, drew a line under it, and showed glimpses of what we usually are. More than glimpses, by the way, but it’s something we have to continue.”

Despite his self-criticism and scathing analysis of the defeat in Italy, he said some pundits had shown a lack of understanding of the team’s form this season.

“The obvious criticism is there, but ex-pros and players who have played at this level know there are times when you can have a blip, a spell like this unfortunately, and it’s how you react to it,” he said. “What we did last week was unacceptable, all of us, and in the days after that game we certainly had a reality show. We talked to each other and we must continue.

“We are good if we play as a team. This is the reason behind the success we have had in the last five years. We press as a team, we defend as a team and if you start to gradually do that and people aren’t in the best shape of their lives, it’s difficult.”

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