LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 20, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk hits back at Roy Keane amid ‘pub defending’ accusations

Virgil van Dijk has responded to recent criticism of his performances, insisting that some of the comments are “not quite right.”

The defender experienced a difficult 2022/23 from both individual and collective standpoints as the Reds dropped out of the Champions League places for the first time since 2016.

Van Dijk made 41 appearances in all competitions throughout last season as Liverpool fell to their worst full season of Jurgen Klopp‘s tenure.

Several pundits have singled out the Dutch captain for criticism following the disappointing campaign, with Roy Keane accusing Van Dijk and his peers of “defending like a pub team.”

Liverpool’s No. 4 has since responded to the evaluations of Keane and others, insisting that while some of the noise is fair, others are wide of the mark.

“In football it’s never plain sailing – but this season was still quite a shock. Sometimes the criticism was just right, both on the team and on me individually,” Van Dijk told the Mirror.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Monday, April 17, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But quite often it was not quite right. Either way, you have to be able to deal with it – and I’m glad I came out of it well. Mentally, that’s not always easy.”

The Reds conceded 47 Premier League goals during 2022/23, up significantly from the 26 shipped in the campaign prior.

The centre-back will be hoping to put things right next season as Liverpool look to compete on all fronts once more and admitted that the scrutiny is “part” of playing for a top side.

“Criticism is part of it – and it’s certainly not a problem if it’s justified. But a footballer knows when he has played well or badly,” he continued.

Liverpool players walk out before match Anfield Virgil van Dijk (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Some comments are also only intended to be controversial and are said just for the sake of saying them. There are so many platforms on which people can express their opinions these days.”

Earlier this week, Van Dijk called for Klopp to make a “couple more” signings in the summer window following the arrival of Alexis Mac Allister.

Liverpool will be hoping that some extra additions and a positive pre-season can inspire a much-improved 2023/24 campaign in all competitions.