Phil Taylor has hailed Gerwyn Price following the Welshman’s World Championship success a fortnight ago, before claiming that players are no longer frightened of Michael van Gerwen.
Price’s 7-3 victory over Gary Anderson in this year’s showpiece saw him become the first Welshman to lift the PDC world title, which also ended Van Gerwen’s seven-year reign as world No 1 in the process.
The Dutchman showed glimpses of his blistering best at Alexandra Palace, particularly in wins over Ryan Murray and Ricky Evans. Nevertheless, he suffered a humbling 5-0 whitewash against Dave Chisnall in the quarter-finals, curtailing his hopes of lifting a fourth world crown.
Van Gerwen has forged a reputation for producing his best darts during adversity, although the 16-time world champion insists that MvG faces a major battle to reclaim his status as darts’ top dog.
He [Van Gerwen] set the bar, people now are matching him, they’re not frightened of him any more,” Taylor told the PDC. “If he goes up there and hits nine- or ten-darters, people can do it back.
“It depends how he is mentally, if he can take the pressure, but he’s getting older as well; he’s got responsibilities, children at home – so it all depends on him really.”
“I used to call it the Manchester United syndrome. If Port Vale played Manchester United they played well, if Leyton Orient played them, they’d play out of their skin.
“You play the player; when you say you don’t play the player, you just play the game, it’s rubbish! Course you do.
“If you go in the ring with Anthony Joshua, you’ve got to fight the best you’ve ever fought otherwise he’s going to knock your head off.
“It’s the same in darts, you’ve got to get up there and perform. You seem to go into a little bubble, where you’re not so nervous so you concentrate and play better.”
Ironically, when Van Gerwen took the reigns as world No 1 in January 2014 – at Taylor’s expense – Price was taking his first steps in the darting world, claiming a Tour Card at Qualifying School in the very same month.
Price has enjoyed a sensational rise since, and he capped his ascent up the ranks by pocketing the £500,000 top prize on January 3, to become the tenth player to be crowned PDC world champion.
Following his triumph, the Welshman revealed that Taylor had been sending him messages of encouragement during the event, and the legendary Stoke-on-Trent star has spoken of his delight at seeing Price lift the Sid Waddell Trophy.
I was pleased,” Taylor told the PDC. “We text each other a lot, he’s a good lad, I like him.
“I know he’s got that little bit of ‘umph’ in his game but I do quite like that as well and a lot of players are doing that now. He’s got fire in his belly.
“I see the dedication he’s done. He was asking me advice before the World Championship, I can only tell him what I did, which I think he took on board, and he’s gone in there and won it with style.
“I think he was the best player. He’s old school, he listens – he’s a bit older than most of the players so he’s sensible, he takes your advice. He wants to be the best at what he does.”
Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC