After the Netherlands’ victory against Gibraltar, in which they scored three goals and registered an impressive 51 shots, Virgil van Dijk responded to criticism from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten about his captaincy.
Despite the much-needed win in their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, both Gullit and van Basten condemned Van Dijk’s style of play, with the former Chelsea player and manager accusing the Liverpool star of avoiding responsibility on the ball and adopting a ‘safe’ approach.
Gullit said: “Virgil van Dijk should lead the play on the ball. But no, he passes it sideways to Geertruida… ‘you do it’. He doesn’t take any responsibility on the ball. He plays so secure, so safe!
“We [Gullit & Van Basten] are positively criticizing Virgil van Dijk. He is part of the Team of the Year right? He got his nice award, right? Then show yourself to us! If he’s still worth it? Everyone believes so, but I don’t.”
The ex-AC Milan forward took aim at the player’s captaincy, adding: “A true captain thinks out loud and makes the situation on the pitch clear to everyone.
“But Virgil van Dijk is always stuck in between. He creates chaos which creates misunderstandings on the pitch. You should avoid this as a captain.”
The 31-year-old hit back at the criticism as he claimed people should remember that players are not ‘robots’ in a defiant response.
“These days, everyone is allowed to have an opinion. That’s how it is,” he told reporters.
“It’s pretty normal that you can’t always be consistent. That you go through phases as a club and player looking for better form. This is human.
“Every week I try to play the best game of my life. But unfortunately this doesn’t always work out. People should remember that we are not robots, maybe people forget this sometimes.”
This season, Van Dijk has faced some difficulties, with Liverpool currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League and out of the Champions League.
Additionally, his performances have been subject to scrutiny by several pundits, including Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen.