Can I have a Ribena with you? The man of the moment and an unlikely hero so far this season has been none other than James Milner, without a doubt.
Have you ever seen a 32-year-old midfielder as energetic and as feisty in challenges as the former Man City man? His presence, persistence and goals have earned him the title as one of the most well-respected footballers in Europe. A vital piece to the Liverpool puzzle at this present moment and appears to be impossible for manager Jurgen Klopp to drop.
Yet, he is keeping the new boys out of the side, Fabinho and Naby Keita have had nowhere near as much game time as they would have liked. But the amount of strength in depth that the Reds have, especially in the middle, would be enough to give a managerial headache that other head coaches could only dream of having.
So, what does Milner bring to the teams that others, perhaps, do not? The trident that has predominantly been used by Klopp has Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson along with Milner, all to which have their own respected role in the side.
A Grafter and a Winner
His qualities bring an old-fashioned and tenacious style of play which is typical of an English footballer. His tackling and his eagerness to get the ball moving again brings an element to his side that hasn’t been seen by another Liverpool midfielder this season. In a cohesive partnership with Georginio Wijnaldum’s creative spark and close control alongside skipper Jordan Henderson’s patience and ability to control the play gives the Reds so many options and a fundamental quality of fearlessness.
The former England international was applauded after colliding like a high-speed train into Neymar, who was looking to break for Paris Saint Germain down the left-hand side but was stopped in his tracks by Milner. The challenge was welcomed by a harmonious Anfield roar from the Liverpool faithful. Six games, two goals and two assists along with multiple man-of-the-match awards. Many, many kilometres covered on the pitch and his hard work has helped Liverpool stay undefeated.
“A consistent performer who plays well every match”, those were the famous words of Bill Shankly who was describing why his talisman Ian Callaghan was never out of the team. The same could very much be said about James Milner this season as he is the star of Liverpool’s show after the first six games.
Statistics have shown that Mr Reliable has scored 13 out of 15 penalties for Liverpool and the Reds have never lost a game, as a result. According to Opta, Liverpool have scored 43 Champions League goals; 10 more than any other team since the start of last season. This may not necessarily be a direct contribution from Milner, but he certainly has a big say on how his team performs if he is playing well, which appears to be a lot recently.
James Milner: Klopp’s Gary McAllister
Despite not bringing excitement on just the sound of his name, he is the Gary McAllister of our generation, the Ian Callaghan of our generation. At 32 years old, he is arguably better than Steven Gerrard at 32, not considering the injuries the former Liverpool legend and skipper had but taking their performances at the same stage of their careers into account, those shouts could be valid.
The summer revolution at Anfield no doubt excited fans. But what James Milner has achieved, by keeping the new signings out of the team, means that his presence on the football field has resulted in him grasping his opportunity early and making it impossible for him to be overlooked in the Liverpool midfield.