Liverpool FC’s official website recently caught up with vice-captain and all-around mensch James Milner for a Q&A. It’s an interesting chat, and Uncle Jim offers up his thoughts on Liverpool’s start to the season, and what he does during an international break to recharge. Later in the interview, Milner talks about helping with the development of youngsters breaking into the first-team, like Curtis Jones:
I think so. I think I was very fortunate when I came through at Leeds. I was very young and I had a great dressing room behind me. It was a bit more hostile back then, if you like, and a bit more going on and you had to be a bit more careful. Obviously it was different times then and things going on, and if you made a mistake, you knew about it and ducking from teacups and things like that! I had a great upbringing coming through at Leeds and the standard set and the older guys. The talent that we have with the first team and the younger guys in the Academy, hopefully the senior players can help them as much as they can. We know how brutal football is. You need so much luck, you need that mental side and that mental strength to deal with ups and downs – and that’s where we have to come in as older, senior players and maybe take the difficult things off their shoulders and make it a bit easier for them and maybe keep that harder side away from them when it’s disappointing. But also, you need to give him that encouragement when they’re doing well and let them know they’re doing well and hopefully just give them that guidance to go and play football. Because the ability these young guys have is incredible really. Then you just need that mindset to go with it.
He also spoke about Harvey Elliot and gave some insight into the youngster’s pretty astounding mental capabilities:
He’s been so positive from the start, to be honest. I was talking about mental strength before, as soon as it happened, the things he was saying, he talks like he’s been through it all before and he’s a 30-odd-year-old player. He’s incredible. He’s got a great mindset, he’s done all his work, he’s progressing really well. Not too far off getting rid of the crutches, I think, which is fantastic. You just need to keep that phone out of his hands, so I think it’s good when he’s on his crutches because he can’t be on Insta and Twitter and all that! But he’s working really hard and that’s the thing that people don’t see. They see the stuff in the gym and the videos, but at home now and he’s on his crutches and he’s doing band work and just lifting his leg up to keep the strength in his muscles. It’s so boring and would be easy not to do, but that’s the hard work that gives you the basis to push on through. He’s doing really well and that’s great to see.
Arguably the most impressive thing about Harvey Elliot’s performances was how he seemed to latch onto so many of the little nuances that many seasoned pros making the switch to English football often struggle with. The game never seemed too fast for him and it’s pretty cool to see that maturity extend to the way he’s dealing with this setback and his rehab work.