Martin King reviews James Milner’s season and describes him as the club’s unsung hero with other players getting more credit despite having a superb season.
If you ask anyone to compile their own list of Europe’s 30 most exciting players, James Milner may arguably not make the cut, however, the England midfielder is the continent’s fifth best player, according to UEFA’s form rankings. That should come as no surprise to anyone because Milner has already proved he doesn’t play to entertain, he plays to get the job done.
Like it or not, that has worked well for Liverpool.
Milner joined the Reds from Manchester City last July on a free transfer and was given the role of vice-captain as well as the club’s legendary number seven shirt. He was never going to be a ‘King of the Kop’, like Luis Suarez or Kenny Dalglish once were, but his presence in the side was and still is vital nonetheless.
Milner first and foremost brings a lot of valuable experience to the side, he has been playing in the Premier League ever since the age of 16 and now at 30, he has two league winner’s medals under his belt. He adds strength, versatility and great work rate -qualities that fit in well with boss Jürgen Klopp’s pressing game and although he isn’t a regular goal-scoring midfielder, he makes up for that with his assists.
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The former Leeds United player provided 14 assist in all competitions last season, the best of which came in the Europa League quarter final second leg victory over Borussia Dortmund – a lovely, chipped cross which found the head of Dejan Lovren who sent Liverpool into the semi-finals. He also contributed a total of seven goals in 45 appearances, earning himself the Man of The Match accolade on six occasions.
The Reds vice-captain witnessed a lot of changes to the squad at former club Manchester City, with top class players coming in and out the door and yet when given a chance he consistently proved that he can play well at a big club alongside top level players. That should give him plenty of confidence that he can remain an integral part of Klopp’s squad, which will surely be changed next season.
He’s a part of England manager Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad and will be looking to have a good tournament for his country before turning his attention, once again, to his club.
Milner may not be everyone’s cup of coffee but if he can keep getting the job done well, both his country and club will have a lot to be thankful for. Who can’t love a player that is supposedly better than Iniesta, Kroos and Bale?
Featured Image – Sportal