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James Milner helped Liverpool remember who they are and Jurgen Klopp was gushing


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James Milner is renowned as something of a serial moaner at Liverpool’s Kirkby training base.

If not the first to notice an issue, the Yorkshireman at least tends to be the first to vocalise his dissatisfaction.

But, while that might make him the butt of his teammates’ jokes on occasion, it might also be exactly what makes the midfielder special.

Put simply, Milner is a man with high standards, and he has kept them consistently over the course of a professional career that is now in its 19 year.

It is an approach that has served him well, leading to a 550 Premier League appearance as Liverpool beat Tottenham on Thursday evening.

The 35-year-old is now fifth on the division’s all-time list, and will no doubt have designs on surpassing Gareth Barry (653 outings) at the summit before hanging up his boots.

He certainly looked capable of achieving that feat as he helped Jurgen Klopp’s side get their season back on track by utterly dismantling Spurs on their own patch on Thursday.

Milner just would not allow the hosts to get comfortable in the centre of the park, constantly getting in to win the ball or, at the very least, forcing his man into a less dangerous passing option.

And, when he had possession, the experienced Englishman consistently used it sensibly, picking exactly the right moments to launch attacks or go for the safe option.

It was a performance that set the platform for a collective showing that had Klopp gushing in his post-match interviews.

Speaking to BT Sport the German said: “What I saw, it’s not about shape or form actually, it’s who we are.

“That’s us. Today, the second half especially, that was us. It was a massive fight, and football obviously on top of that.”

Milner is the absolute essence of the football Klopp was referring to; the perfect combination of graft and craft with an unshakeable winning mentality to boot.

He cannot be expected to lead Liverpool’s renaissance alone, of course, even as a player who has fought so hard against the natural drop-off in fitness levels that comes with entering the ‘veteran’ category.

Picking and choosing his games in the coming months will be key, and signing a centre-back before Monday’s deadline would certainly help in that regard given its obvious ramifications for Jordan Henderson.

But Milner proved on Thursday that his presence in the starting XI can often help Liverpool remember who they are, which is exactly what Klopp needs has he charts a course through a defining period of fixtures.


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