I’ll start this piece off by admitting I wasn’t watching the game on Saturday while it was on. Minus 10 Fan Points for me. I was on a train to a wedding that I’d booked months earlier, hoping we were a 3pm kick off. We weren’t and I spent about an hour of the journey looking for mobile streams that didn’t work, catching about thirty seconds of the game in which the ball was out of play anyway.
Due to this, I had the pleasure of keeping up with the game on Twitter. After five minutes it became clear that grudges with the powers that be at Liverpool over not signing a left back and a holding midfielder had not been forgotten. The Reds were being slated, making me think we were going to get absolutely battered. A highlight was the LFC-Twitter-Commentary hanging Milner out to dry the minute Spurs got their equaliser. By the sounds of it he’d done a Moreno, completely gifting Spurs their goal.
And then I watched it back. As it turns out, we weren’t, we outplayed Spurs and should have won the game. The first thing I watched was their goal. It made me sympathise with Milner, as you imagine every mistake he makes going forward this season will be magnified more than any other as fans are determined to be right about the left-back situation. Yes a worldy pass by Eric Dier got in behind him, but nothing was made of Clyne and Lallana both going with the same man, Mané not tracking the run of Rose and Mignolet folding like a chair in a position he’s supposed to make himself look massive in.
Overall, Milner impressed. He looked composed on the ball, pressed well and gave us a good outlet on that left. He bagged a goal too, and although I’m not going to pretend a pen is any more than hitting it in from 12 yards out, someone has to step up. The fact is, despite wide reports that there is simply no way we can do well while he’s there, we dominated a Champions League side, on their own patch, and came away from the game frustrated that we didn’t win.
Admittedly, I’ve always been a Milner fan. I was made up when we signed him. As a replacement for Gerrard, we couldn’t of got much better for a free. Was he ever going to reach peak-Gerrard heights? No. Was he performing at a better level than Gerrard was in his last year? Yes. Milner enjoyed a very good first season last year. Whereas some come to Liverpool and take time to settle in, Milner wasn’t phased by the size of the club. This reflected in his 16 assists and 9 goals for us in all competitions last season.
For me, Milner personifies what a Liverpool player should be about. He’s consistent, hard-working and has a very good attitude. He quietly goes about his business, creating chances and chipping in with the odd goal from the engine room. Bravery is a big thing on football, and he has it in bucket-fulls. I’m not talking about 50/50’s (which he doesn’t shy out of either), I’m talking about wanting the ball and wanting to make things happen. It was Milner who, when it was needed more than ever, was brave enough to take THAT free-kick against Dortmund, play it short instead of lumping it and then demand it back before setting up one of the most famous goals of all time at the Kop End.
Is he a left-back by trade? No. Will he be perfect in the position from the off? No. Is he a fancy new signing? No. What he is, is a hard worker who will offer a fine alternative while Alberto Moreno strives for consistency and aims to cut the errors out of his game. Now the window is shut, moaning about the left-back situation is now pointless and counter-productive. We know what we have, and we should support it. Lets back James Milner.
Written by @JackMitchell5