Nathaniel Clyne has had a difficult 18 months. He went from being Liverpool’s dependable, resilient right-back, to losing his place on the team following an injury and the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Sunday’s victory against Manchester United was a heck of a game for Clyne to be expected to walk into after only playing one League Cup match so far this season. But injuries to Alexander-Arnold and James Milner forced Jürgen Klopp to make the switch, and Clyne once again proved himself capable to help see Liverpool through the big games.
While he looked pretty out of gas by the end — understandable considering his lack of match fitness — Clyne last all 90 minutes and provided the team with defensive stability.
After the game, Klopp made a point to praise his contribution.
“Clyney: first game of the season and I was sure he couldn’t play 90 minutes but he adapted brilliantly to the style,” Klopp said.
“A big squad isn’t there to make each member of the squad happy. It’s to give everybody the opportunity to show that he should play. If you don’t show that, then you don’t have an opportunity any more to be honest.
“The best case is that everybody is 100% fit and performs at the highest level. The best example of that is Nathaniel Clyne. Since I have been here, he has played 100 or so games, then he got a bad injury and was out. Trent emerged, then Joe got fit, and the situation changed.
“You can train at the highest level, but you have to wait. Is that nice? No. Is it the job? Yes. That’s how it is. Because Clyney did that and trained at a really high level then he could perform like he did tonight, just amazing. We were all a bit afraid that Clyney might shoot when Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri) scored. If Clyney would have scored tonight it would have been a real sensation!”
The 27-year-old doesn’t bring the same attributes to the table that Alexander-Arnold does, but his stalwart defending and calm, direct passing could also prove useful as the matches begin to pile up in the second half of the season.