James Milner might be the highest profile Liverpool player to be forced into playing an “unnatural” position, but he’s not the only one this season. Adam Lallana has also been forced to play a deeper role than he’s been accustomed to, dropping out of the attacking band of midfielders to join Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in the center of the park.
Milner has had quite the opportunity to see Lallana up close and personal, both with the England national team, and with Liverpool Football Club. As such, the vice captain thinks Lallana will have a big year for both club and country.
“He seems to glide across the turf and when there are a couple of men around him and he does his Cruyff turn away from them, it’s very hard to defend but it looks great as well,” Milner told liverpoolfc.com. “He seems to take everything in his stride, no matter how bad the pass is or how bobbly the pitch is or any situation really – he’s that sort of character.”
I’m not entirely sure how the ability to handle a poor pass reflects positively on Lallana’s character, but sure.
“He’s great for us as a team on and off the field and I can only see him getting better and better. I think it’s going to be a big season for him.”
A big criticism of Lallana during his first two seasons with Liverpool was his low return in front of goal. Somewhat counter-intuitively Lallana’s production has increased despite being further away from goal. In five Premier League appearances he already has two goals and an assist.
On his latest goal, an absolute face-melter against Leicester City, Milner could only ask:
“It wasn’t a bad strike, was it? I said to him afterwards it was one of those where he just put his foot through it. He has got such great technique and sometimes you see him in training when he is just free and striking the ball so cleanly – awkward balls, both feet, he has got that ability.
“Maybe sometimes in a game he thinks about it too much. Just sticking his foot through it, with his technique, might be the way to go, looking at that goal.”
Ah yes, the classic British football advice of, “Just put your laces through it, lad.” With his retirement from international football, Milner might just be preparing himself for a career in broadcasting with that kind of analysis.