Liverpool Left Back Andy Robertson Now Emerging as a Leader
Andy Robertson’s journey to becoming Scotland skipper and an Anfield regular following in the footsteps of Tartan team icons like Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish is a curious one.
Released by Celtic in his early teens for being too small, he’s proved the Bhoys academy coaches completely wrong by forging a top-flight career on both sides of the border.
Via lower division outfit Queen’s Park and Scottish Premiership side Dundee United, Robertson made it to Hull City where Steve Bruce clearly saw something in him.
He then spent three seasons on Humberside, remaining with the Tigers when they were relegated from the Premier League before helping them get straight back out of the Championship with a sweet play-off final victory over Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
When Hull were relegated again despite Marco Silva’s belated efforts after arriving more than halfway through a season of turmoil, however, Robertson always looked like being on his way.
Left back had been a problem position for Liverpool. John Arne Riise left Merseyside in 2008 and a string of players flopped when trying to pick up the mantle.
Jurgen Klopp was so dissatisfied with his natural options down that side of defence that he played the versatile James Milner here prior to Robertson’s arrival. He wasn’t the only Liverpool manager in recent times to use a right-footer at left back either, with Alvaro Arbeloa and Jon Flanagan among those.
And yet, despite all this, Robertson still had to wait his turn when he did join the Reds. As last season progressed, he established himself in a side that reached the Champions League final and lost to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid hat-trick vintage.
That run to one victory away from the European Cup meant Liverpool would surely give the dominant Manchester City something to think about on the home front this season, and so it has proved. The Reds have a 100 per cent record from their first four league matches under Klopp and are a pick of the EPL betting tips from Betfair with outright odds of 5/2.
Sterner tests lie ahead for everyone at Anfield, but Robertson has been highlighted in the reflective glory as Klopp’s swashbuckling front three of Egypt star Mo Salah, Senegal wide-man Sadio Mane and Brazil forward Roberto Firmino tore up defences in England and throughout Europe.
Alex McLeish’s decision to name Robertson as Scotland captain is an indicator that he is one of the first names on the teamsheet. It also comes at a time when the Tartan Army can cheer on an embarrassment of riches at left back Kieran Tierney of Celtic is also winning many fans.
The irony of him being in Robertson’s place at Parkhead were it not for those pesky naysayers during his youth career aside, some managers would view this scenario as an either or. A case in point is Sven-Goran Eriksson during his days as England boss choosing Ashley Cole of Arsenal over Wayne Bridge at Chelsea.
Until Tierney plies his trade at a higher level regularly, then that comparison is slightly flawed. The point is McLeish sees or makes room for both, so while Robertson’s captaincy got off to a 4-0 battering at the hands of Belgium that friendly loss should be placed in its proper context.
Scotland lost handsomely – their biggest at home for 45 years – to a team that only found World Cup winners France too good for them in Russia this summer. The match that mattered more was their Nations League debut in which Robertson not only skippered his country to victory over Albania but took his fine defensive form from Liverpool’s Premier League campaign so far with him.
His captaincy is only just beginning. What follows for club and country, including his second season, is hopefully big things for Robertson.