One suspects nobody was happier to see the international break come to a close than Andrew Robertson.
Scotland had a fairly miserable two games, losing to both Russia and Belgium, never looking like much of a side at all. What makes it worse for Robertson on a personal level is that he found himself among the criticism as he was unable to outperform his teammates of lesser ability at lesser clubs.
But it should all be fine now. He’s back at Anfield and back among players of real quality. Chief among them is one Roberto Firmino, who he particularly highlighted.
“It was a special goal. Bobby [Firmino]’s vision is frightening and Mo [Salah]’s finished it off. 3-1 after a tough international break is always a good result.
“We didn’t start the game the way we wanted to and to be fair to Newcastle they started brightly and scored a hell of a goal.
”That gave us the wake up call we needed and afterwards I think we kicked into gear and were too good for them.
”We need to be quicker getting back into our rhythm [after international breaks] or against teams in the top six we might struggle to get back into the game if we give away a goal.”
Further praise for the number nine came from Virgil van Dijk, who added that Firmino is “a very important player for all of us”, telling BT Sport that he “[knows] how difficult it is for a centre-back if the striker is dropping – you don’t want to go as a central defender. He is making life difficult for any defender in the world.
“He is so good and I’m very happy he’s in my team.”
International breaks are a mixed bag for many. Some, like Van Dijk, go to play in a thriving side full of promising players. Others, like Robertson, struggle among those of lesser ability. What matters is getting them all on the same page, and back among players they clearly enjoy working with, like one Mr. Firmino.