Dave Davis reviews Andy Robertson’s 2017/18 season and looks at how the Scot is quickly becoming Anfield’s favourite characters.
It would have been hard at the start of the season to imagine a player whose signing got greeted with such little fanfare would become a cult hero for so many.
It’s been an incredible 12 months at Anfield for Andy Robertson, a player who in simple terms looks like injuries permitting, he’s solved our long-term left back issue. The start, middle and endings all have a different narrative, however.
Having been linked with the likes of Mendy, Digne, Bernard and others over the summer, Robertson was brought in from relegated Hull City for a modest £8m. The 24-year-old wasn’t seen as a bad signing by any means, but most reds thought he’d be challenging Alberto Moreno for a place in the first XI, despite his current standing.
While he may be a favourite now, fans quickly forget that it wasn’t all plain sailing for the former Queens Park player.
The early part of Robertson’s Anfield career was spent either on the bench or predominantly in an executive box, as Moreno started the season as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice left-back.
Tellingly, in Liverpool’s first ten Premier League games, the Scottish international only started two of those. Robertson even turned in a man of the match performance against Crystal Palace, impressing with his overlap runnings, work-rate and delivery into the box.
However, between the 23rd September and the start of December, he didn’t see a minute of league action.
An injury to Moreno saw the former Celtic youngster brought into the first team against Brighton on the second of December, and Robertson didn’t look back from there. As Liverpool started to climb back up the table and hit a fantastic run of form, Moreno’s return had little impact on Jurgen Klopp’s thinking.
An assist against Bournemouth, combined with being part of a team in good form meant the 24-year-old was starting to gain recognition for his efforts. It would be the turn of the year that would see Robertson go to another level though.
Players arrivals can affect others in varying ways, but the arrival of Virgil van Dijk benefited Robertson without question. The left side of defence finally looked solid, having been such an issue over the years. Van Dijk’s present allowed Robertson to get forward and deliver dangerous balls into the box.
Additionally, the Dutchman’s organisational skills meant the Scot often found himself in the right position, time after time.
Cult status needs a specific set of circumstances though and Guardiola’s City machine, combined with a favourite Anfield boo-boy in Raheem Sterling provided it. In what was arguably the game of the season, Robertson pocketed the England winger.
Often pinching the ball off him and putting Sterling on the defensive, Robertson’s performance elevated him to another level and saw Sterling hooked in the second half. The image of the former Dundee man pressing the ball all the way back to Ederson is still a favourite for many.
The confidence flowed from thereon in and it’s difficult to review any players season without referring to the Champions League final run, which Robertson was a key part of.
Excellent in the first leg against Porto, exceptional in both legs against City and a warrior in Rome. ‘Wee Andy’ was a key component of Liverpool’s success and could rightly feel aggrieved at missing out on UEFA’s Champions League squad of the season.
The final day of the season against Brighton brought about Robertson’s first goal for the club. Despite it being a late one, in an already-won game. It was telling how much it was celebrated from both the crowd and team-mates alike.
Robertson came across throughout the campaign as a decent, hard-working and likeable guy. More importantly, a talented left-back who looks a bargain at the price.
For once, left-back isn’t an issue.