Michael van Gerwen maintained that Phil Taylor deserved to be booed by the Rotterdam crowd, after coming from behind to defeat the six-time Premier League champion in a feisty encounter at the Ahoy Arena last night.
The world number one endured a nightmare start to the contest as ‘The Power’ eased into a 3-0 advantage. However, Van Gerwen rallied to win seven of the remaining eight legs and prevail 7-4 with a 100.50 average, to remain hot on the heels of table-topper Peter Wright.
Despite this, ‘The Green Machine’ was left bemused by Taylor’s behaviour at certain points in the contest. The 16-time world champion started strongly, before preceding to wind the crowd up with his celebrations after winning the ninth leg, which reduced the arrears to 5-4.
However, moments later, the 16-time world champion spurned opportunities to level the contest at five apiece as the crowd began to heckle Taylor, which led to the Stoke-on-Trent star sarcastically applauding the 10,000 Dutch fans.
Then in the final leg with Van Gerwen poised on a two-darter for the match, Taylor opted to shy away from the treble 20 and nonchalantly threw three successive darts at the outer bull. Sky Sports pundit Rod Harrington labelled this as a ‘lack of respect’.
As a result, Van Gerwen had little sympathy for the boos directed at his opposite number, telling Dutch TV: “Phil reacted strangely to the audience and that’s what he deserved. He behaved in principle very childishly.
If I behaved like that in the UK the spectators would do the same with me. It’s too bad, because I think a player with his abilities does not need it. I have great respect for him because he was already successful before even Raymond van Barneveld was. He has laid the way for us.”
Van Gerwen also questioned Taylor’s motivation and admitted that it impacted his own performance. “It was hard for me because it was a different kind of pressure. Phil, for some reason, he wasn’t concentrated enough and he wasn’t motivated, in my opinion, enough. Normally you don’t see that so I don’t know what’s going on with him.”
“He made it difficult for me. He wasn’t performing the way he normally does, but he’s done that for a couple of months to be fair since he said he was going to stop playing darts. He’s not motivated or concentrated 100% anymore. It doesn’t make him a better player; he’s still good of course, but he misses that little bit of sharpness,” Van Gerwen added.
Van Gerwen had lost his last three televised meetings against Taylor prior to last night, and his defeat to ‘The Power’ in September’s inaugural Champions League of Darts remains his last televised loss- a staggering 43 matches ago.
However, the world champion admitted that it was difficult to cope with the pressure of performing on home soil. He added: “It’s more easier for me to play in the UK because all these people put pressure on me and you want to perform in front of them. But I did the job and won the game. I feel great, my back is fine and I’m pain free again.”
Van Gerwen doubles up in Manchester next week having missed night five in Exeter. He faces James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld; knowing that two victories will send him back to the top of the table. Elsewhere, Taylor will attempt to avoid a third successive league defeat when he faces current table-topper Peter Wright.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC