It wasn’t something you’d expect to say at the beginning of this season, but Liverpool’s Andy Robertson is establishing himself as one of the first names routinely penciled into Jürgen Klopp’s starting XI.
When he joined from relegated Hull City in the summer of 2017 for a modest £8-ish million, the general understanding was that Robertson would compete with Alberto Moreno for minutes at left back, with the hope that one of the two would step forward to make the position his own. To the surprise of many, Moreno revived his Liverpool career at the outset of this campaign, significantly reducing (though not entirely eliminating) the defensive lapses to which he was prone while proving a valuable contributor further forward.
When Moreno had the misfortune to be sidelined with a serious injury in December, the spotlight suddenly shone on Robertson, and the young Scottish fullback has answered the call with some style. He had already put in some solid and eye-catching performances against Manchester City and Porto before his most recent effort against West Ham United, which was so comprehensive that Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer “thought he was the best player on the pitch.”
To get to this point, however, Robertson had to bide his time and lay the foundations on the training ground while Moreno was in the ascendancy.
“At the start of the season I had to be patient,” recounted Robertson to the club’s website. “I’m not one of those people who will go in and start telling [the manager] I should be playing, it was more ‘What can I do? What do you think I’m lacking that I need to get in the team?’”
“He told me a few things that will obviously stay between us that I had to work on,” added the young fullback. “I worked on them in training but Alberto was playing well, you can’t hide away from that fact and it was unfortunate that he got injured.”
Since seizing that opportunity, Robertson has featured at left back in 15 out of Liverpool’s last 16 matches across all competitions, including 13 out of 14 in the Premier League. While doing so, he has also endeared himself to the supporters in a very big way. The indefatigable work ethic which drove Robertson from the Scottish Third Division with Queen’s Park to answering phones at Hampden Park, and eventually to the Premier League with Hull City - in just over two years - is the same one that never gives opposing player’s a moment of peace.
Nowhere was this more apparent, and more well-received, than in the monomaniacal effort Robertson put forth in chasing the ball down during the Reds’ 4-3 victory over Manchester City.
Try and get this out of your head! #SuperMario #Robertson pic.twitter.com/sXJcDAvSoQ— Retro Football TV (@RetroFootyTV) January 18, 2018
With Moreno close to match fitness, Klopp has a bit of a selection problem on his hands. But while Robertson was glad to see his teammate back in action, and even alongside him during the match against West Ham, don’t expect the Scot to be easily relinquishing his spot anytime soon.
“I feel at home now, which did take a wee bit of time, but I’m happy to be here and I just hope that I can keep kicking on.”
Anfield feels the same way, Andy.