Phil Taylor understands the pressure Michael van Gerwen is under ahead of the World Darts Championship
Phil Taylor talks about Michael van Gerwen's chances of winning his fourth world championship at Alexandra Palace and the pressures he has faced of attempting to stay at the top of his game; the contenders to win this year's tournament; and his own memories of the worlds
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 07/12/20 4:26pm
The legendary Phil Taylor says world No 1 Michael van Gerwen is feeling the pressure ahead of the World Darts Championship and only he knows the cure to his problems.
Taylor, 60, dominated the darting world for over two decades, winning 16 world titles before retiring from the sport in 2018.
Van Gerwen will be going for his fourth crown when the festivities kick off at Alexandra Palace later this month, but despite suffering from a lean spell by his standards, the Dutchman will now head into the tournament having returned to title-winning form when he collected the Players Championship Finals title last month.
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Despite all the success, 'The Power' knows a thing or two about feeling vulnerable on the big stage.
"He's changed his darts, then he's gone back to his old ones again but he's [playing] in flashes. He seems to play brilliantly one game but then loses the next," Taylor told The Darts Show Podcast.
"It's just pressure. I know what he's under and I know what I would do to cure it but I'm not telling him. This is a real test for him."
World No 1 Van Gerwen and his wife Daphne welcomed Michael Jr into the world earlier this year. They already have a girl, Zoe, together.
Taylor feels family life has brought 'Mighty Mike' back down the earth with his priorities now very much family-focused.
"He's a young fella with two children and a wife at home who hardly every sees him so the pressures will be there," said Taylor.
"There are other players coming through, he's getting a little bit older and the travelling will take its toll on him because it does take it out on your body.
"You've got to be 100 per cent, especially at the world championship."
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Taylor also picked out a couple of names who he thinks have a shot of going all the way at Alexandra Palace, stating with Belgium's Dimitri Van den Bergh. "He seems to be playing well," said Taylor.
"Gerwen Price has dropped off a little bit. I think he's burning out a bit. Simon Whitlock has been making a surge.
"Aidy Lewis is a little bit of an outsider for me because his back's against the wall and every time he's had his back against the wall he seems to do well. He gets off his backside, he puts the work in, he dedicates himself.
"He always seems to do well when he's right under the cosh, his back's against the ropes.
"Gary Anderson is another one, so I would say Gary, Aidy, Dimitri and Jose de Sousa. There is that many really."
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Taylor's favourite memories
Taylor delved into his box of world championship memories, saying the first one was always his favourite. In 1990, a 29-year-old Taylor hammered his mentor Eric Bristow 6-1 in the BDO final at Lakeside.
"It will always be the first one and then matching Eric by winning the fifth has always stood proud in my mind. The two Peter Manley ones, beating him 7-0 twice, stands out [2002 and 2006]. I always have a big smile on my face with that one.
"Me and him had a genuine hatred. We were like the Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank of the sport.
"We get on really well now because we're not competing against each other and the 16th one because people were telling me 'you'll never win the worlds again' and even professionals were saying 'you've had your day now' so I'm thinking 'just win one more' and it came."
You won't miss a dart this Christmas thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel which returns from December 15 until January 4 for every session from the PDC World Darts Championship. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.