Rod Harrington reckons Michael van Gerwen must make the most of his “electrifying scoring power” to have a chance of defeating Phil Taylor in the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final.
Van Gerwen’s fast throwing style allows him to crank up the pressure on opposing players and the likes of James Wade and Adrian Lewis have been unable to cope with his quickfire technique at Alexandra Palace over the past few days.
The young Dutchman is the form of the his fledgling career and is 9/1 to follow up his amazing nine-dart finish against Wade in Sunday’s semi-final with one against 15-time world champion Taylor in New Year’s Day.
Taylor reached the final with a 6-4 win over Raymond van Barneveld in a game that the world number one led 5-1 at one stage before his long-term rival hit back.
Attention now turns to Tuesday night and Sky Sports commentator Harrington thinks Van Gerwen can trouble Taylor if he takes the game to the 52-year-old.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes, Harrington said: “It’s a mouth-watering final, but Michael van Gerwen is going to have to stop having dull periods.
“He keeps going through these spells in games, and he let Adrian Lewis and James Wade in during his last two matches. Back in the day, he wouldn’t be allowed to do that against Phil.
“He’s going to have to keep that leg-on-leg pressure that we keep talking about on, and he’s going to have to take the game to Phil Taylor.
“If he doesn’t, then Phil will do what he’s done against Barney for a large part of that game. He was allowed to take out shots like 78 and 90 without a lot of pressure on him in his semi-final match. You can’t do that, especially if you want to beat Phil Taylor.
“Michael’s got a huge chance, but he’s got to take the game to Phil.
“He mustn’t let Taylor dictate the game or let him do what he did to Barney in the early part of that game. Don’t let Taylor get in front, because otherwise you’ll be dead and buried. He’s got the game and the emotion to come back from being down.”
Exhilarating wins over defending champion Lewis and Wade have further cemented Van Gerwen’s standing as a fans’ favourite at Ally Pally.
Harrington, himself a finalist in this tournament in 1995 when he lost 6-2 to Taylor, is excited at what the future has in store for the player nicknamed Mighty Mike.
He added: “Michael has got nothing to lose; he’s still a young man.
“What Michael does at the moment is just play the dartboard rather than the man, and just goes ‘pound, pound, pound’, and he did that against Peter Wright despite being two sets down. He also did that against Adie Lewis and came back at him when he went 4-3 up.
“He’s got that electrifying scoring power that allows you to come back and it helped against James Wade when he just missed out on back-to-back nine-dart finishes.
“You’re a special person if you have that scoring power. If you have it, then you’ve got the brain to think that you’re going to match everything your opponent does.”
“In my opinion, his form’s come along at the right time. The last six months have been incredible for the young man. It’s great to see.
“Things are moving along now, and we need to look to the future, and Michael is a big part of the future of this game.”
Please Note: All Odds and Markets are correct at the time of publishing