You blinked and Liverpool’s long-standing issue at left back sort of disappeared. And to your surprise, in it’s place was the long-respected James Milner. The England international has proven throughout his career to be a reliable cog in whatever machine needs him and under the tutelage of Jürgen Klopp the midfielder-by-nature was identified as a solution to the unpredictability of Alberto Moreno.
What started as an experiment quickly became a viable option for the club up and down the left flank. Then before we knew it Milner was Liverpool’s starting left back and we’ve never looked back.
Milner spoke to the club’s official site about his metamorphosis into a Jürgen Klopp fullback.
“I think obviously when things are new,” said Milner, “you’re going to need a bit more guidance and I’ll be asking questions if I’m not sure on things.
“Obviously there’s odd games where there are special instructions or things you might want to do a bit differently to normal, but other than that there hasn’t been too much, so hopefully that means I’m not doing too much wrong.”
The Leeds-native won’t be the long-term holder of that position into his thirties but for now, looking back on his performances, Milner has been solid defensively, reliable at transitions and effective going forward. He hasn’t been everything that a world-class left back can be, but my goodness, he’s right, he certainly hasn’t done too much wrong at all.
Played predominantly on the left wing for Manchester City for years, Milner is familiar with the marauding runs he’s tasked with up that side. But, he’s had to add that bit of defensive reliability to his game all while adjusting to the in-game fluidity that being in this Liverpool team requires.
“I think you have to, whether you’re playing in a game for five minutes there or half a season or a full season, you have to think like you’re playing in that position,” said Milner.
“There’s times with the way we play that you find yourself covering someone else’s position and you have to make sure that you’re doing the job properly and fully understand it for that period time.”
James Milner has a natural understanding of the game and a willingness to do absolutely anything for the team to win. He’s goes forward, backward, doesn’t shy away from a tackle, doesn’t moan over transgressions, does his job intelligently. He’s not a world-beater but he’s proven himself crucial to Liverpool’s tactics since Klopp took over.
“I just want to be part of this team,” Milner added, “and I want to help the team and I’m enjoying being part of this football club.
“We have a great bunch of players here, a fantastic, talented group. A young group, as well, and hopefully I can help them as much as I can with my more seniority now, unfortunately!
“It’s a good time to be in and around the team and there are lads on the outside desperate to take our shirts, so you have to be on your toes. And that’s what you need to be successful, competition for places.”
James, buddy, if Moreno asks for your shirt just tell him you accidentally left it at home next to the Christmas socks that need sorting.