James Milner Typifies Liverpool Spirit And Deserves Plaudits

After a tough start in the second leg last night, Liverpool managed to secure a place in the Champions League semi final stage after two wins over English Premier League leaders Manchester City.

City threw the kitchen sink at Jurgen Klopp’s men and they did wobble, conceding in the second minute as Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for the home team.

The Reds managed to get to half-time without letting in any more goals, although the officials mistakenly chopped off a legitimate Leroy Sane strike.

In the second half, Klopp clearly told his side to go out and play better. They needed to get a foothold in the game by winning the ball, keeping it and going on the attack whenever possible. It worked and star man Mo Salah managed to find the net and that was followed up by a Roberto Firmino winner.

Liverpool produced a two-legged masterpiece that was full of character and spirit. I don’t believe many, if any, embodied that more than their veteran James Milner.

With Jordan Henderson suspended for the second leg, Milner captained Liverpool against his former side and on his 650th career appearance no less.

It’s funny when people saw that first goal going in for Man City they thought the worst, yet the captain thought differently:

“In a way the early goal for them woke us up and it says a lot about the boys that we soaked up that pressure in the first half that got the crowd up.”

The thirty-two year old showed all the qualities that Klopp loves in him, during those two vital European nights. The English midfielder works tirelessly for his team, he worked in tandem defensively with Andrew Robertson on the lefthand side. If Sane, Raheem Sterling or David Silva popped up on that flank then Milner was there to give his left back a helping hand.

He won tackles, headers and managed to remain calm when others starting to crumble a wee bit.

In the first leg, his determination paid off when his full bloodied challenge managed to steer the ball to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian who then smashed the ball home at Anfield. That was Milner’s seventh assist of this Champions League campaign and no other player has bettered that tally in Europe’s elite competition this season. His performances this term have led to calls for him to come out of international retirement and help England as they head to the Fifa World Cup in Russia this summer.

Jurgen Klopp knows that he has a foot soldier in Milner, when he selects him. He’ll do his job without any fuss and will always give the German 100% on the pitch. He also seems to thrive when given added responsibility, whether it be via the captain’s armband or taking penalties. What more can you ask for in a stalwart?

The Yorkshireman also offers versatility and won’t throw a huff if he has to move positions throughout a campaign. In this era, James’ modest and hard working attitude must be a blessing fo his manager.

It’s funny that he has managed to help Liverpool knock-out Man City. I often think he was under appreciated at the Etihad and that they sometimes took him for granted. He’d be on the bench for the bulk of a season and then they’d bring in more and more players to fight for positions. It took some balls for James Milner to walk away from the guaranteed money and status at City but he wanted more game time and to feel more appreciated.

That has happened for him at Anfield and it’s great to see him running all over the pitch showing plenty of desire and work rate.

He’s now being rewarded with a tilt at Champions League glory.

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