Liverpool & James Milner: An excellent first response

Lots of media sources are now reporting that, in the coming days, Liverpool will announce the free-transfer signing of James Milner, so it’s probably all right to start writing about it.

First things first: if it transpires that Milner agrees a contract in excess of what Liverpool were willing to offer Raheem Sterling, that will be some anomaly. No, Sterling’s determination to leave Anfield is not purely defined by money, but even so - the club’s valuation system will look askew.

Regardless, Milner would be a good signing.

If he looked different and owned another passport, the twenty-nine year-old would probably be more appreciated than he is. Unfortunately, he’s spent his career labouring against the perception of being a work-horse and the kind of midfielder who is only ever useful in situations which demand a tactically conservative approach.

He plays when there’s a full-back to protect and when more celebrated players can’t be trusted to put in the required yards.  He’s the blue-collared footballer given the jobs that other players think are beneath them.

But as laudable as it is, that tag has done him a huge disservice. He may not be the most elegant or stylistically exciting player, but he’s a better one than assumed. Yes, he does possess a restricting function and he is an excellent midfield option for any manager looking to reinforce a flank against a dominant winger, but he’s also technically very capable.

Within a Liverpool context - and this is obviously hypothetical until the deal is confirmed - he would be very useful. Brendan Rodgers obviously has big defensive stability issues in wide and central areas and Milner is a natural response to those, but Liverpool as a team arguably also lack a formulaic, wide-dwelling player who can provide consistently decent delivery from the touchline. Adam Lallana is, at best, an inverted winger, Lazar Markovic’s long-term future is probably more central, Jordon Ibe is still very much adjusting to Premier League life and Sterling, as discussed, is bound for the exit door.

Milner’s signing would represent the diversification of midfield options and, refreshingly, a logical transfer for Liverpool. There’s nothing speculative or risky about this deal, because he’s just a very solid Premier League footballer who not only has an exemplary attitude, but who has also developed a habit of performing at a very high level against elite opposition.

No team can ever have too many of that kind of player; this is excellent business if it happens and an astute first reaction to some of the issues of 2014/15.

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3 Comments on "Liverpool & James Milner: An excellent first response"

  1. There must be a good reason why City are not renewing his contract. It is not as if they have a surplus of Milner type players.

  2. As A City supporter, I like many will be extremely sorry to see him. leave.

    What you say about him is in part true but, only because that’s how he’s been asked to play for the clubs he’s served. When we had a striker crisis earlier in the season, he stepped up and showed he has got flair and scored some important goals for us. When given his head playing wide, he has shown he has the pace and ball control to be a real threat.

    Not too sure how he would fair in central midfield as anything other than a defensive mid (he has other ideas) but, i can only wish him well.

  3. We just need the rest of Man City team instead of Southhamtons then BR might be ok

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