James Milner has admitted that he was lucky to work with Jurgen Klopp for eight years at Liverpool.
Milner left the Reds to join Brighton this summer, after building a winning legacy at Anfield. Often seen as Klopp’s embodiment out on the pitch, the 37-year-old enjoyed a stellar relationship with the Liverpool manager.
Now speaking to The Athletic today, Milner has labelled Klopp ‘one of the very best’ coaches around, while also drawing comparisons to Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing managers in my career — some not so good as well. Working with Jurgen, who is one of the very best, for the amount of time I did,” says the veteran. “That’s what excited me about coming here as well — working with the manager.
“He’s a top manager already, and he will only get better. I want to keep learning, keep becoming a better player and expand my knowledge and experience as much as I can. The fact I get to come here and work under a manager like that was a big draw and something I’m really enjoying.”
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On what makes the likes of Klopp and De Zerbi so good, Milner cited an emotional connection.
“Their intensity and desire to win is a big one,” he explains. “Bouncing around on the touchline and wanting to be out there with you. That’s a big thing when you see your manager showing that sort of emotion and that will to win. He wants to be out there with you — feels every kick. That’s great to know that they are right there with you. That’s definitely a similarity [between De Zerbi and Klopp].”
Milner makes Klopp admission
We haven’t really heard much from Milner since he joined Brighton. There’s been the odd photo from pre-season – one which led to a riposte from Andy Robertson. But he’s generally been quiet.
The same can be said of his fellow former leader at Anfield, Jordan Henderson.
Unlike Milner, Henderson has a fair bit to answer for having upped sticks at Liverpool for Saudi Arabia. The 33-year-old has come out with some comments today, but he doesn’t really answer the burning questions Reds fans have for him.
For Milner, there are less questions for now. He is still playing at the top level with Brighton and will be fully focused on the season ahead.
The Yorkshireman has always said the time for looking back will be when he hangs up his boots. So until then we perhaps shouldn’t expect to hear too much from him about the glory days at Liverpool.
As a result, Klopp should feel somewhat honoured to get this mention from Milner. He doesn’t give praise lightly, but it’s clear that the two men had real respect for each other.
There’ll hopefully be a nice moment later in the season when they’re reunited at Anfield. As ever, Milner won’t let emotion get in the way, but we all now know how he really feels about our Jurgen.