James Milner looks set to wear the armband in his first ever Merseyside derby on Sunday. This is a massive responsibility for any new player, especially given the circumstances that Liverpool find themselves in at the moment.
Speaking to the official site, Milner said:
“It’s obviously a huge honour to lead out the team and that pressure doesn’t change whether you’re captain or not."
“You want to go out there and perform well and win the game for the team, that’s the most important thing. If being captain I can help some of the guys in keeping them calm in pressure situations and help out some of the younger guys, then great.
“But whether you’re wearing the armband or not, I try to be the same player and try to help the guys in the same way and be a bit of a leader on the field. I think that’s important.
“We’ve got other great leaders in the squad as well. It is important that you stick together and the guys that have been there before and played in derbies can help out the younger guys and players who haven’t done that.
“It’s about sticking together and making sure we have more than one captain out there.”
While he may not have experience with this particular fixture, his time at Manchester City and Aston Villa will have given him an understanding of what to expect on the big day.
“I’ve got derby experience at other teams I’ve played for but, having played at Everton, I know what a tough place it is to go anyway and the atmosphere that’s created there.
“I can only imagine it’s magnified by 10, 20 or 30 times playing in a Merseyside derby. It will be a great atmosphere, I’m sure.
“Obviously any derby you play in, you want to do it for the team but more so for the fans – they’ve got to go into work the next day and face their workmates and have bragging rights for at least three or four months.
“It’s important for them and everyone at the club and gives you that boost. Form always goes out of the window going into a derby.
“It’s normally a one-off game and a bit of a cup final and a completely different game to anything else you’re going to play for the rest of the season.”
He's right about the all-important bragging rights that beating Everton provides for Liverpool fans, but this particular derby has even more attached to it. With it being the last game before the October international break, a win would serve to buoy and placate the fans going into the long two weeks off. A loss, particularly one where the team performs in a disappointing fashion, would pile even more pressure on the club and the manager, who some speculate might find himself out of a job soon if results don't improve.
Milner is right about the atmosphere being magnified on derby days, but so too is the emotional response to the result. It's one thing to lose 3-0 to West Ham, but losing similarly to Everton would be unacceptable by the fans.
Milner, Ings, and the other new players are saying the right things about anticipating this match and understanding the significance it holds for the supporters, but only time will tell which, if any, of the players will rise to the occasion tomorrow.