In a world of endless measurement and assessment, it seems almost impossible to comprehend that…
You don’t have to be a devoted English football enthusiast to know there’s something about Liverpool at the moment. Under Jurgen Klopp, the Anfield side have become one of the most entertaining, exhilarating sides in the game at present. Their front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah give the Reds a formidable attack, with the trio all finding the net in Saturday’s 4-1 win over West Ham.
But while they might have grabbed the glory of scoring the goals, a Scot was the driving force behind Liverpool’s performance. As Alan Shearer highlighted on Match of the Day, Andy Robertson was “the best player on the pitch,” continuing a run of form which has seen him become the Reds’ first choice left back.
He was relentless, dominating the entire left wing, getting in behind, linking up instinctively with the likes of Emre Can, Firmino, Mane and Salah. When Mane scored his goal, he gestured to his Scottish teammate, thanking him for the measured cross across the face of goal, giving the Senegalese winger an easy finish. Robertson also would have had another assist had Salah shown more composure in finishing a wonderful cross to the back post.
With 4⃣4⃣% of the vote, here is your @carlsberg Man of the Match.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 24, 2018
Klopp has built a side that many believe are as close to Manchester City’s standard in the Premier League, with Liverpool even deemed to be dark horses for the Champions League. And Robertson is a key part of that team. When was the last time a Scottish player operated at such a high level? Darren Fletcher spent a number of years at Manchester United, but he was never as important to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side as Robertson is to Liverpool right now.
For years we have bemoaned the lack of a Scottish superstar. Gordon Strachan made a point of pointing how, as national team manager, he didn’t have such quality in one player to call upon. “This is not a team with a world-class talent standing head and shoulders above the rest,” he complained. “There is no Gareth Bale. No Thomas Mueller. No Wayne Rooney. No Lewandowski.”
It’s not hyperbolic to tentatively suggest that Robertson could become Scotland’s one superstar, though. It’s not just Scots who are giddy at the performances of the 23-year-old, but Liverpool fans too. And that is the true mark of Robertson’s success. Scottish football fans once believed Charlie Adam to be our very own Xavi, while Liverpool’s fans always insisted he wasn’t up to the mark. Supporters, the ones who watch week in, week out, always know best.
Robertson might well be the once in a generation talent Scottish football has waited longer than a generation for. What’s more, he’s in the right place, playing under the right manager. Under Klopp, in this Liverpool team, it’s likely that the left back will improve further, and at just 23 years old there is plenty time for him to do that. The excitement around Robertson is entirely justified.
Against West Ham, Robertson’s display hinted at the player he might one day become. While he showed defensive nous on a number of occasions, it was in attack where he made a real impression on the game. Could he, over time, become an out-an-out winger, allowing the former Dundee United and Queen’s Park man to fully embrace his attacking instinct? Might that take him up yet another level? It would certainly help in trying to crowbar both Robertson and Kieran Tierney into the same Scotland team.
For now, though, Robertson is the left back who is proving himself as one of the best full backs in the game. He is a key member of Liverpool team on an upward trajectory. There will be more performances like the one he turned in against West Ham on Saturday.