Michael van Gerwen has dismissed criticism from his title rivals over a recent dip in form by claiming “they didn’t have such big mouths in the last few years”.
The world number one has been below his brilliant best since winning the Premier League two months ago and has registered eight consecutive individual match averages of under 100 for the first time since 2011.
He began his quest for a third Betfred
World Matchplay title with an unconvincing 10-6 victory over Steve Beaton, averaging just 93 and missing 27 darts at doubles in the process.
Van Gerwen’s below-par form has been a talking point among his fellow professionals, with Gary Anderson and Peter Wright among those to have their say, but MVG has hit back by suggesting his rivals were not so outspoken during his past spells of dominance.
“It’s quite weird because I see other top players average less than 93, I think it’s absolutely poor and they say they’re in good form so I don’t know what the difference is?” Van Gerwen told Live Darts.
“Of course I’m going to turn them over.
“It’s quite easy for them to say now ‘I quite fancy beating him’ but they didn’t have such big mouths in the last few years.
“You always have to believe in yourself and give yourself confidence, and what someone else says, I don’t really care.
“You always have to aim for perfection and that’s how you’re going to be a winner.”
Van Gerwen now faces Glen Durrant in a highly-anticipated ‘clash of the World Champions’ at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday as the two tungsten titans meet on a televised stage for the first time.
Durrant is on cloud nine having marked a dream debut on the Blackpool stage with a 10-4 rout of Adrian Lewis and a 101 average to boot, but MVG insists he will be treating the match like any other.
“I always want to throw well and perform the best I can but it’s not always possible,” he added.
“That makes it sometimes quite difficult but it’s also a part of darts it makes you stronger at the end of the road.
“You have to accept that you’re not a robot but I put all my time into this game so that I can perform, and when I don’t perform it hurts. I think I want it too much.”