James Milner signed for Liverpool with no fuss or drama, choosing the promise of playing time and a key midfield role over staying at Manchester City for more money. Then, the club got caught up in the signing sof Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne and his official announcement and introduction rather got lost in the shuffle.
The transfer window officially opened on July 1st and Milner became a Liverpool player. And yet there were no pictures of him leaning against things posted to the club’s website. No talk of how excited Milner was to have joined. No links to buy his shirt—he’s keeping the number seven he wore at Manchester City, in case anyone’s looking for a new bit of kit for 2015-16.
Now, though, it’s officially official. Or at least that it’s officially official has been officially announced. James Milner smiling and leaning? Check. Links to buy a Milner number seven kit? Check. Letting you know all sorts of random factoids like that he grew up a Leeds United supporter and even for a time was a ballboy at Elland Road? Check. Plus, of course, the interview asking him how he feels.
"It’s always a big thing, obviously, changing club," said Milner when asked about changing clubs. "To sign for a club as big as Liverpool with the history they've got and the place it is—I'm just ready to get started I suppose. It's great to be here; over the summer you're thinking about it and wanting to get going once the decision has been made so it's great to come here."
For those keeping score at home, that’s the "big club" and "history" boxes to check off on your new signing bingo cards. More telling, perhaps, is when Milner explains that part of the reason why he moved was that manager Brendan Rodgers promised he would get a chance to play in a more central role than was often the case at Manchester City.
"Speaking to the club about what their plans were and where they saw me over the next few years at the club," Milner said, "and then speaking to the manager here and his plans going forward and for myself, I just thought it was the right thing for me to hopefully go and get more game time and be part of something special.
"It's a great challenge for me. I want to play football and play more centrally if I can—and that's where the manager said he sees me playing. That's a big thing for me. I still feel I have plenty of football left in me [and] I want to play as much football as I can. When I'm sat at 45 and retired, I want to look back and see what I've done and that I've played games, rather than having come to the end of my career and tailed off."
Along with the rest of the players who didn’t spend the summer on international duty, Milner was at Melwood for his first day of pre-season, and he met up with his new teammates and the coaches as they began preparations for the 2015-16 season. The goal, he says, was clear in a determined desire to improve on last season's disappointing results.
"Within the meeting this morning, there was a sense of learning from the last couple of years," said Milner of his first day as a Liverpool player. "The manager has been here for three years, the players have been there with him too, and each season has been different. The main thing is you learn from every season whether you win or lose. You normally learn more from seasons and games that don't go too well.
"There is a hunger there, I can feel that, and that's why I also wanted to come to the club."