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James Milner on Liverpool’s “Fantastic” Transformation

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Now in his fifth season at the club, he’s helped the Reds go from trying to stay relevant to European superpower.

Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

When James Milner joined Liverpool from Manchester City, it seemed something of a step down. Never mind the history, in the present it was City winning trophies and targeting European success and Liverpool just trying to stay relevant.

Five seasons on, and Liverpool are defending European Champions—while City still struggle to find respect in Europe—and six points ahead domestically. It’s a situation Milner reflected on in an interview this week with This Is Anfield.

“You see where we were when I first signed and the transition and where we are now, going toe to toe with them,” Milner said. “It’s fantastic and hopefully we can keep pushing them and fight as hard as we can for the title this year.

“Our games against City, they’re always tight, and last year you look back at the games and you see their goal which hits the post and goes in and ours is cleared. At this level, that’s the margin for error—inches, centimetres, millimetres.”

Milner added that while last year’s result was “tough to take” at the time, he believes that the side learned from it and grew—and that last year’s disappointments will help them when they face City again this year, starting on Sunday.

He also said that, understandably, he still has fond memories of his time at City and the silverware he won—though he should surpass his games total with City this season for Liverpool, making the Reds the club he’s served longest.

“Obviously, now I think of them a bit differently,” he said of his feelings about his former club and the side currently standing in the way of Liverpool breaking their title drought. “They’re big rivals but that good feeling is still there.

“They’re a big part of my career and a big part of my life as well. It’s great to be going toe to toe with them now. It was disappointing that they got one more point than us last year, but it shows what a great team they are as well.”