With James Milner having picked up a preseason knock, the odds were always good that new signing Andy Robertson would make his first ever appearance in a Liverpool shirt this weekend against Hertha Berlin. And appear he did - starting the second half of the match, slotting in alongside Joël Matip, Ragnar Klavan, and Joe Gomez at the back.
At £8 million, the cash value of Robertson’s acquisition was dwarfed by the sums paid for Mohamed Salah (and is downright paltry compared to the numbers bandied about in connection with the Naby Keïta and Virgil van Dijk pursuits), but there was a tremendous amount of interest in this debut. Despite starting against Hertha, it’s clear that Alberto Moreno is on the periphery, so this friendly was a good opportunity to see if Robertson had the goods to claim that left back position as his own.
The Scottish international performed more or less as advertised. He’s been described in some other quarters as a more “moderate” Moreno - less prone to going walkabout on defence, but with less verve and pace in the opposition half. In truth, that description probably does a disservice to Robertson’s game. After a nervous first few minutes, the young fullback settled in, showed decent composure on the ball, and demonstrated an eager eye for a quick pass to unleash the speedy attackers ahead of him.
He linked up well with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge, sensing the opportunity for a quick shot of his own early on, and also lashing a cross that just barely eluded a charging Salah. Despite being beaten once or twice by his opposition, Robertson did little to cause alarm on the defensive end, and put in a fuss-free performance, which is what his manager expected.
“I think you could see exactly what he's good in and where he has to improve in 45 minutes,” said Jürgen Klopp after the match. “Speed, football-wise, he's flexible and good [with] crosses, that's really important. We are a dominant football team, or want to be a dominant football team, so we need players who can make the difference on the wing.”
What did the player himself think of his appearance? In a word, Robertson summed up the experience as “brilliant.”
“It was my first game since the start of May so it was good to get rid of the cobwebs,” said Robertson after the match. “To pull on this shirt and play with the boys was an honor. Hopefully there’s many more to come.”
“The boys did well in the first half and we had to wait patiently on the bench,” he added. “In the second half, I thought we controlled the game as well. The lads all dug deep and we got what we needed out of the game.”
First impressions can deceive, especially during the preseason (hello Iago), but if Robertson can improve his defensive work, his acquisition may well prove to be excellent value for the club.
If you have an LFCTV GO subscription, you can see the highlights of Robertson’s outing in Berlin for yourself on the club website. Alternatively, given the level of interest in his debut, you can check out the Robertson highlights on YouTube.