Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back. He’s actually played football on the football pitch. All is right with the world.
There’s no question that it’s been a long journey. In a lengthy interview with The Times, the returning midfielder talked about his tough struggle to return to fitness, as well as where Liverpool are right now and what we can do in the remaining games of the season.
“I’d be working hard at the club feeling I’d had a long day”, the Englishman said of his time out, “then see the boys in the canteen, just back from a Champions League game in Italy or wherever, with their bags on their backs and they’re off to Bournemouth away. When you’re in it, you’re just in it. Removed, you realise how relentless it is.
“You get to hear the noise and everyone wants wins and wins and wins. And from the manager I’ve seen, however well the boys have done at the weekend, he’s the same exactly on the Sunday and Monday. He keeps demanding from the players. He keeps them there. You can see how he’s living it himself, the demands he puts on himself and how that oozes out [to everyone].”
Talking about the squad, Oxlade-Chamberlain added that the club have “A great captain in Hendo, a leader and role model every single day — win, lose or draw. People like James Milner, who has won leagues but at an age where some footballers might want to wind down, is hungry.
“Then what you’d call the superstars up front but also players like Andy Robertson, who worked his way up to become one of the best in the world. Everyone understands what it means to play for Liverpool, what the fans demand — which is just giving your all for the club. I’m lucky to play with these boys. It’s not nice to miss out but it hasn’t been ‘bittersweet’, more sweet, really, seeing how well the team has done.”
And finally, of the big Champions League semi-final this week, he added that “I really believe it’s down to us. We can beat absolutely anyone. We’ll have to cope with their qualities and obvious strengths but we have plenty of them ourselves.”
It’s been a tough time for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He’s missed a lot of football and there were times along the way when he could have been very useful. But that’s all in the past now. He’s back, and he’s ready to contribute.