When James Milner signed for Liverpool over the summer, he became the club's highest paid player. A Premier League veteran; a versatile midfielder who had made high-flying Manchester City better any time he was on the pitch. Expectations were high, and they got higher when he was named vice-captain.
So far, to say Milner hasn't lived up to those expectations—not to mention that £150k per week salary—would be an understatement. Milner has done a lot of running, but beyond one goal against Aston Villa and one assist over the weekend against Southampton, there hasn't been much effect or end product to show for it.
In the more central role he reportedly moved to the club to play, he hasn't shown much of an ability to read the game, often putting him out of position and leading to needless fouls. Like the one that led to Southampton's late equaliser on Sunday. Milner, for his part, seems just as frustrated by this as many fans are.
"That's something we have to address," said Liverpool's current captain, continuing to fill in for the injured Jordan Henderson. "It's frustrating. It's a difficult way to draw. We didn't have too many chances after they scored, and that was another disappointment. We didn't react. Mentally we couldn't go again."
As stand-in captain and the man who replaced Steven Gerrard as club's highest paid player, the expectation for many would be that Milner would be the man relied on to do that. To push his teammates on the pitch with his words and actions. To drive them to react and push for the win after Southampton's equaliser.
Milner, so far at least, doesn't seem the sort of player to do that, and his reaction to the draw only seems to further abdicate any leadership role. New manager Jürgen Klopp has talked of this Liverpool side being one seemingly waiting on somebody else to save them, and that seems to extend to their captain on Sunday.
It's not all Milner's fault, of course. Manchester City were willing to pay him more money to stay at the club, so Liverpool aren't exactly overpaying for him. And it wasn't Minler who made himself vice-captain or agreed to move him into a more tactically demanding role in the centre of the pitch in order to get him to sign.
There's still a good player in there. A player who made Manchester City better. There just probably isn't a captain or a player suited to playing at the base of midfield. It's one more problem for the club's new manager to sort out.