Virgil van Dijk has claimed the Liverpool squad are taking no notice of what’s being said about them in the outside world – taking aim at the way pundits reacted to last week’s embarrassing 4-1 defeat to Napoli in Italy. The Reds issued the perfect response at Anfield by digging deep to beat Ajax late in the day courtesy of goals from Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip to get their Champions League campaign back on track.
Much has been made of Liverpool’s difficult start to the 2022/23 campaign and Van Dijk himself has had to deal with his fair share of criticism following a string of below-par performances.
The Dutchman will be the first to admit he’s not been at his best this term but the centre-back seemingly believes some of the criticism towards his team-mates has been farfetched and disrespectful.
He told BT Sport’s Des Kelly, when asked on how Liverpool’s players have coped with the recent head: “Not listening to the outside world, that’s the most important thing.
“It’s funny sometimes because a lot of ex-football players know exactly what we are going through.
“They say a lot of things to try and get to us. We know last week was unacceptable and we try to make it right.
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“This is a step in the right direction, don’t get carried away because there are so many games but it’s time to focus on the international break then crack on when we return.”
BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand, who has always been full of huge praise for the Dutchman, issued a swift and honest response when asked whether he believed Van Dijk’s comments were fair – although it’s not clear who they were directed at…
The former Manchester United defender told Jake Humphrey: “If I thought it was wrong or it was personal, then I’d get the hump.
“But if it was deserved then I’d hold my hands up. Listen the Naples performance, I think every player will hold their hands up and say ‘look it was a bad day at the office’.
“We reiterated on the night that nobody was saying they’re a bad team. It was a bad performance.”
Van Dijk could have got himself on the scoresheet on a number of occasions but the ball would simply not go in for the Reds when he headed several crosses and corners at goal.
Inspired defensive partner Matip finally came up with the goods though when he just about powered the ball over the line.
Liverpool’s captain for the night continued: “We tried [to win convincingly] but they scored with their first chance but coming back from the horror show in Naples.
“It was really important to show a reaction and it’s not easy to turn it around.
“It’s a step in the right direction in my opinion. During the game we had great moments.
“It was very important to win today heading into the international break.
“I should of scored, we were dangerous from every set piece including corners but it was our job to convert one which Joel Matip did.”