When Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy last month, James Milner was just about the only person with a sense of deja vu.
He’s of course won the thing twice for Manchester City. Neither time, though, were they able to retain the title the following year. That has to change for Milner this coming year.
“This is the start again of an even tougher season,” the midfielder told the official Liverpool website. “I think how good we’ve been over the last two seasons has been incredible, but if we stay at that same level it won’t be good enough.
“Everyone else is pushing, everyone is improving and we have a target on our backs and they’re going to want to knock us off the top. So it’s down to us to keep improving, keep pushing.
“You see the mentality of the squad and the hunger and the togetherness, I don’t think that’ll be a problem. But it’s down to us to prove that.
“Talk is easy – you can say what you want, it’s about proving it on the field. We’ve managed to do that over the last few years and recover from setbacks and disappointments.
“Now it’s time to go again and keep pushing and have that hunger even when we’ve been successful.
“That’s the task for us but the teams in the past have shown how difficult it is to retain that league title. That’ll be a big challenge.”
Speaking a little more about where the club are right now, Milner explained that “it’s something that we have to be proud of, it’s something that we have to represent and make sure that every single time we step on that training field or on that pitch that we play like champions.
“There’s that pressure when you step out of there when you’re wearing the Liverpool shirt anyway – you’re expected to be the best you can be.
“But obviously there’s that pressure there to live up to that but that’s the good pressure, that’s the sort of pressure you want and what you’ve earned.
“You earned that right to be called champions but then you have to go and prove it and do it again.
“I think everybody is focused and ready to go again and hopefully have a real good run at retaining it again.”
James Milner is around and locked in. Everyone will need to be if Liverpool are to win it a second time.