How Andy Robertson symbolises the Klopp era
If ever you wanted to sum up how impatient and overly-critical the modern football fan is, just look at the flack Andy Robertson took after two average performances against Leicester and West Ham.
These weren’t remotely poor displays, just adequate showings that included giving away a sloppy free-kick in the lead-up to Harry Maguire’s equaliser for the Foxes.
Robertson roared back to his best form in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, however, putting in a trademark shift down the left.
His perfectly-weighted pass to Gini Wijnaldum led to the Dutchman lofting a stunning effort over Artur Boruc, with the Scot registering his eighth assist of the season in the process.
Everything about his game stood out, whether it be his class in possession, his astonishing energy levels or his defensive blend of tenacity and focus.
It was a performance that has become the norm for Robertson during 18 months in a Liverpool shirt, as he continues to be one of the best bargain signings in the club’s history.
To have paid Hull City just £8million for his services, and given them Kevin Stewart for the same amount, is bordering on cruel.
In a Reds squad littered with great footballers and special characters, the 24-year-old symbolises the Jurgen Klopp era as much as anyone.
There are a number of strong contenders, from Virgil van Dijk to Roberto Firmino, but Robertson will be looked back on as everything good about this period when the dust settles years down the line.
The left-back recently spoke to LiverpoolFC.com about his approach to matches, outlining his desperation to always give his all.
“My attitude when I go onto the pitch has always been fearless. I’ve never gone into a game fearing anything or anyone.
“We’re in a game where mistakes happen and it’s how you deal with that. You’re in a game where you can become a hero. It’s all about dealing with that.
“But I always believe if we all give 100 per cent, some days not everything will come off for you-you’ll have bad touches, mistimed tackles – but if I’ve given 100 per cent, you’ll still get criticised and you’ll criticise yourself in terms of performance, but you’ll know you’ve made it hard for your opponent.”
It is an attitude that sums up Robertson as a character and is precisely why he has become one of the most popular Liverpool players for a decade, and one of the most important.
When you look at everything Klopp wants in a footballer, the Scotland captain has the lot.
Technically, he is fantastic, possessing a beautiful left foot that puts thought into its final ball rather than hoping for the best. His crossing, in particular, is sublime.
There is never anything hurried about his use of the ball, with calmness, creativity and intelligence all shown week in, week out.
Fitness is also clearly a major part of Klopp’s management, and again, Robertson has the lungs of a marathon runner.
His forays up and down the left wing bring an extra attacking dimension to Liverpool’s play, much like Trent Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank.
Then there is the strength of character Robertson possesses, as highlighted by the above quotes. He is a winner, and his battle to overcome a tough start to his career is a testament to that.
In a squad occasionally accused of being too nice on the pitch, failing to master the dark arts, the former Hull man can be nasty when he wants to be, too.
Just look at him clenching his fists in the face of Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert, simply for winning a thrown-in against the Seagulls last month.
Look at the way he celebrates goals he doesn’t score, even if he has played no part in the build-up. He ‘gets’ what it means to us and it means just as much to him.
Away from being a bordering-on-world-class player – it depends how you define ‘world-class’, but I go with the top 10 players in the world in each position – Robertson the human also makes him so perfectly right for Klopp.
There have been few more genuine, caring individuals to have represented the Reds, with his personality in interviews often shining through. His willingness to support food banks, not out of necessity but because he wants to help, also warms the heart.
Klopp signs good footballers and good human beings – Robertson waltzes into both categories.
Liverpool need some huge performances as the final three months of the season arrive, with pressure intensifying and the title race threatening to go down to the wire.
Klopp will be turning to several trusted on-pitch lieutenants to deliver for him and Robertson is one of those he will be looking to for inspiration more than most.
There was a reason the Liverpool manager was so hellbent on signing him when other more high-profile left-backs were being linked in 2017 – he has been a revelation.