At the end of last season and during the summer months before the start of this season the one area everyone (and by that I mean all the experts here on social media-myself included ha) fully expected manager Jürgen Klopp to go out and strengthen was the left back position.
The much maligned Alberto Moreno all but sealed his fate at the club as a left back with his performance in the Europa League Final where he took huge portions of the blame.
Some of the name mentioned over that summer transfer window ranged from experienced internationals of top quality to young home grown English players who had shown great potential early on in their careers. Namely Jonas Hector and Ben Chilwell.
Hector is highly regarded in Germany as the finished article, coming to his peak, experienced and a full international. Klopp was widely tipped to be very interested in him and with his knowledge and links in German football alot of people seen this as a good match for us.
Young Ben Chilwell on the other hand is young was after going through a campaign with the eventual Premier League winners and was seen a huge prospect for the future.
As we all know now Klopp knows his stuff, questioned by alot of people at the time too, decided to pull a rabbit out of his hat and reassigned James Milner to the position of left back for this season.
As the pundits and supporters alike looked on in amazement at this decision it went somewhat unnoticed that Milner could actually be the perfect fit at the perfect time for him.
James Milner has been around for what seems an eternity right now and shockingly only turned 31 very recently.
He’s been a senior player at six different clubs so far Leeds, Swindon (loan), Newcastle, Aston Villa (loan and permanent), Man City and Liverpool.
He’s played mostly a midfield role at these clubs but he’s also played on the wing and now he’s a dominant left back.
He’s won 2 league titles,1 Fa cup and 1 charity shield. He’s scored 70 goals in 590 appearances so far, he was named the Pfa Young Player of the year for 09-10 and was also selected in the Pfa team of the year for that same year.
So far he’s scored 5 goals and had 2 assists in the league this season which followed on from a slow start in midfield last season but which seen him end up with a personal tally of 7 goals and 14 assists in all competitions.
And in the second half of last season he became the chief goal maker week in and week out having a hand in numerous goals from midfield and wing positions.
James has slotted into that position this season virtually seemlessly to the extent that each week as I see him play there now I’m impressed every time with his knowledge of the game his athletic ability and his willingness to get forward and always provide himself to be an outlet for a pass.
My question here today is are we really in need of a new for at choice left back right now?
For me the answer is no.
James does everything I expect a modern day left back to do and more. He gets goals too.
He defends well enough in close spaces he knows how to direct and pacey winger for example onto his bad side or out away from the box.
He provides cover to his centre backs when needed. He gets forward time and time and gain providing over lap for our wingers and gained dragging the opposite defender all the way back with him.
He has a huge work rate and engine to accompany that. He has the experience needed to guide younger less experienced players and long the way. He can slot into multiple positions at any time.
And that’s all off the top of my head that I can think of.
A new left back in the likes of Jordan Amavi, Sam McQueen or indeed Sead Kolasinac are all good shouts also. Maybe a bit young but are they really going to come into a new team or new league, step up in class and automatically do what we have right now in the form of Milner.
No I doubt that very much.
Its true we do need cover and we do need to strengthen the defence but I don’t see that happening and left back just now.
As tight as things are right now James Milner is one of those players that gives us an advantage right now not only for all the afforestation mentioned attributes but for the simple fact he has become an integral part of the Klopp machine.
Jürgen Klopp doesn’t have many league winners in his side right now and in James Milner he does have one and he also has a player he knows will run and run and do anything he asks of him with the complete professionalism that we all hear about.
Sometimes during and a title run in those players prove to be worth their weight on gold alone.
Man Utd has those players in the likes of Phil Neville and Nicki But just to name 2.
Chelsea had Mikel and Kalou.
Every team that wins has those players.
And in all honesty James Milner is doing more for Liverpool right now than any of those mentioned did for their teams. Not regularly.
This season if it goes the way we are all hoping could be a great on for Liverpool and bring us right back to the top on our perch again and I’m sure that of that happens in 10 years time we will all look back and say to eachother “ya know in that side Milner was the difference and never got the credit”.
So if we do sign a left back in this transfer window I really hope it’s a young player earmarked with great potential. One who can be told to go out watch Milner and how he goes about his job and in a couple of seasons or so we are left with a new James Milner at left back but with youth on his side also.
Written by @StephenKing75