- Virgil van Dijk believes he had a disappointing season at Liverpool last term
- He is much happier with his form this season after being named captain
- England will struggle to win a trophy with Kalvin Phillips – It’s All Kicking Off
Virgil van Dijk has admitted he underperformed during Liverpool’s disappointing campaign last season.
Having won both domestic cup competitions and come within two games of a historic Quadruple in 2021-22, Liverpool were expected to challenge for major silverware again last term, but they finished outside the top four.
Van Dijk received some criticism for his own performances, and has conceded that some of it was warranted as he fell below his usual high standards at club and international level.
‘I take some criticism seriously, but not all. I know very well when I play well and when I don’t. Last season was just mediocre, sometimes even bad,’ Van Dijk told Dutch outlet Algemeen Dagblad.
‘As a team we also struggled to find a good rhythm at Liverpool. The Nations League with the Dutch team was also not good.’
Virgil van Dijk feels he had a ‘mediocre’ season last term as Liverpool struggled on the pitch
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Jurgen Klopp’s side have looked somewhere near their best again this season, and find themselves just a point behind Manchester City at the top of the table.
Their positive start to the season has coincided with Van Dijk’s return to form, and the Dutch defender has revealed he is much happier with how he is currently playing.
The 32-year-old suggested his drop-off last season may have been due to him not trusting his body after suffering a serious knee injury following a tackle from Jordan Pickford in October 2020, but he has claimed that is no longer on his mind.
‘I have thought and talked about it (last season’s issues) a lot to be able to turn that around. That worked, I think. Things have been going very well again since the summer,’ Van Dijk added.
‘My injury was very serious, it is not surprising that you have to get to know your knee again, so to speak. But now I don’t notice it anymore. I haven’t had to change much in my way of playing, I have the feeling that I can do everything again.’
The experienced centre back has been handed extra responsibility this season after being named captain following Jordan Henderson’s departure to Saudi Arabia.
Van Dijk is enjoying the experience of having the armband, and is motivated to be a positive influence on the team even when is being rested for Liverpool’s Europa League fixtures.
‘I naturally find it very beautiful and honourable,’ he said when speaking about taking on the captaincy.
Van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury following a tackle from Jordan Pickford in 2020, and has admitted he is only now fully trusting his body again
Van Dijk has been back to his best this season having been given the captain’s armband, and is enjoying the extra responsibility of leading the Reds
‘There’s a lot involved, perhaps even more at the club than at the national team. You have a lot of responsibility towards the entire team, especially the younger boys, and also towards the club as a whole,” he said.
‘I don’t always play in our European matches, but as captain you are still expected to be important to the team on those days. I try to do my very best in that regard. It certainly doesn’t have a negative impact on my game. Not exactly: it is more of an incentive.’
Van Dijk was speaking ahead of the Netherlands’ final two qualifying matches for Euro 2024, with Ronald Koeman’s men looking to book their spot at next year’s tournament in the coming days, starting with a home tie against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday.
His focus will then switch back to Liverpool, with the Reds set to face City in a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash next weekend.
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