Virgil van Dijk told he must take criticism ‘on the chin’ as he experiences ‘rough patch’ at Liverpool

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Following Liverpool’s slow start to the campaign, Virgil van Dijk is one of a number of Reds stars that has been questioned for his recent performances.

With Jurgen Klopp’s side winning just two of their opening six Premier League games and suffering an embarrassing defeat against Napoli in the Champions League recently, some have claimed the Merseysiders are not the same side that competed for quadruple right until the very death last season.

But Noel Whelan has now backed the former Southampton defender to return to his usual best very soon and told the 31-year-old he must take any criticism ‘on the chin’.

“This is our job, to criticise or praise players,” the ex-Leeds attacker told Football Insider (via TEAMtalk). “We’ve been there, done it. Now we’re sat in the armchair watching it.

“We all know what a great player he is. And the person who will be criticising him the most is himself.

“Players know when they’re not hitting the heights or if they’re having a rough patch.

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“Unfortunately, this is what comes with football. If he’s having a great time, he’ll be praised – it’s a 50/50 thing.

“When you’re not playing well, the critics are going to come your way. And he needs to take it on the chin.

“He’s not having the best time right now, and he’d probably be the first to admit that.”

The Netherlands captain has already insisted that he won’t listen to people from ‘the outside’ and will only take on board advice from those that are ‘close’ to him.

He knows that the performance in Naples was ‘unacceptable’ and spoke recently about how that result gave him and his teammates a ‘reality check’.

The No.4 has admitted that he can perform better but it’s Klopp’s side as a whole that has been performing below par rather than just van Dijk on his own.

The central defender will never shy away or go hiding when his performances aren’t at his usual world-class best and he must be applauded for speaking so honestly during what has been a difficult start to the campaign.

Following our victory over Ajax on Tuesday, the hope is that the Reds have now turned a corner and that they can put together a decent run of results when domestic football returns following the impending international break.

Our next clash is the visit of currently manager-less Brighton on October 1 in a game where three points are imperative and a clean sheet wouldn’t go amiss.

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