Liverpool: Andrew Robertson is as important as Salah, Mane or Firmino
While Liverpool’s front three take all the plaudits, Andy Robertson should not go overlooked as their season progresses.
There is a famous Jamie Carragher quote from Sky Sports’ flagship Monday Night Football that “no-one wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville.”
Of course, there is a grain of truth to this: all fullbacks are either failed centre backs or failed wingers. “You end up there by hook or by crook,” as Carragher put it.
Manchester City spending £71.5 million on full-backs as part of their summer revamp in pre-season, though, was a clear sign of how important they are considered by clubs now.
Over the Pennines, another fullback was about to make a name for himself.
Andrew Robertson, who signed for Liverpool for a more modest initial £8 million fee from Hull City, has become an integral part of modern Liverpool, that prides itself on its free-flowing attacking play.
While the electrifying front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have quite rightly got the majority of plaudits, Liverpool can also thank their Scottish left wing-back as they aim to become regular top four incumbents again.
On the front foot
This was brilliantly demonstrated at the weekend, as the Reds swept West Ham aside, 4-1, at Anfield.
That trio of Salah, Firmino and Mane all got on the score sheet,as did Emre Can, but it was Robertson that impressed the most on Saturday.
The 23-year-old was constantly bombing up and down the left-hand side, linking up with attacks for the hosts.
At one point, unsurprisingly for Liverpool, their ultra-offensive style caught them out when Can dallied on the ball and Michail Antonio broke down the Hammers’ right before slotting in at the far post to get West Ham back in it at 3-1.
Whilst it initially looked like Robertson had been caught out of position, allowing Antonio the space to exploit before scoring, it was more a sign of just how important he has become to Jurgen Klopp’s attacking philosophy in Merseyside.
Robertson had already started to run down the wing with a mind to contributing to forward play rather than holding position and being wary to the counter-attack.
Anyone who would still prefer Liverpool to be more Mellow Blues than Heavy Metal were made to forgive any lack of conservatism soon after when Robertson got some direct reward for his excellent display: his low ball being tucked in by Mane for 4-1 to take the game out of sight for the visitors.
Pressing his way into the history books
Robertson was also named as Liverpool’s Man of the Match in the 4-3 win over champions-elect Manchester City – a game that was most famous for being one of the games of the season but some Liverpool fans will remember some Robertson pressing just as well as the match itself.
“I didn’t really want to be that far out of position,” he told Graham Hunter’s podcast. “It was just, every pass back, they all gave me a sniff of the ball and I thought: I’m going to get there, I’m going to get there, I’m going to get there.
“If maybe the first pass was a wee bit firmer, I would have left it, because that’s my job done, I’ve forced my winger back, but at that moment in time, we had just scored three goals, we were 4-1 up, the fans were magnificent, everyone was right on top of us, so we had an extra 10 per cent.”
Nobody wants to be a Gary Neville…
It was a run that seared Robertson’s place in the hearts of many Liverpool fans.
Here was someone who was not willing to give up a lost cause for the Reds, a man who had totally bought into the ideas of popular manager Klopp.
Nobody wants to be a Gary Neville but, with Andy Robertson making a name for himself at Anfield, expect more youngsters to want to be fullbacks in Liverpool as time goes on.