Sunday 25 August 2019

Robertson aims to catch more trophies in his web

Andy Robertson lifts the Champions League trophy after Liverpool’s victory over Spurs. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Andy Robertson lifts the Champions League trophy after Liverpool’s victory over Spurs. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Andy Robertson is worried about a new nickname. "Peter Parker," he says, tentatively lifting his bandaged right hand to show the source of the mockery. "I was bitten by a spider on holiday in Majorca. I was just out on a boat and then the next day my hand was double the size," he says. "They examined the infection and it seems the bite was quite deep. It got me good but it's fine now.

"I've already heard the Spiderman thing. Some people are trying to make it stick, but maybe not . . ."

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All the Liverpool players were made to feel like superheroes in the wake of a sixth Champions League win. The sedate setting of the pre-season tour camp in Notre Dame is ideal for contemplation - of recent successes and challenges to come.

Modern idols mix with club legends as if they are passing silhouettes of their future selves. It is a reminder to Scotland's captain that a career-defining triumph is in the locker, yet the fire burns for more.

"Winning the final, that sense of achievement, sunk in quickly," he says. "But the magnitude of it probably won't sink in for a bit longer. It is a different feeling when people see you as a Champions League winner. We all know now that whatever happens in our career, wherever each of the 23 players involved go from here, we can always look at each other, look back at the day and understand what we achieved together.

"Nobody can take it off us. It was just incredible. On that open-top bus with all your pals, seeing how happy everyone is; and then when the bus turned into that main street . . .

"Everyone was in awe of what we had witnessed and experienced. But there is also a feeling with everyone here of using that feeling, going through the streets of Liverpool with 800,000 people, seeing our captain lift that trophy. It is a feeling we want to carry over. We want more of that.

"Last season was different. We were using the sense of heartbreak of losing the final to drive us forward. At 89 or 90 minutes of every game we were still flying about. This season we will be like that with a different feeling, wanting to win more trophies."

For Klopp, the evolution is ceaseless, not with expensive new recruits this year but readjustments, welcoming back fit players. For all the obvious influence of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, Liverpool's development owed much to the tactical use of their full-backs.

The rocket-fuelled performances of Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold has had a profound impact on how rivals set-up against Liverpool and plan to attack them in future.

Manchester United paying pounds 50 million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Arsenal targeting Celtic's Kieran Tierney demonstrates how others crave their own versions of Liverpool's dynamic duo.

"Nowadays there seems to be a lot of big money being spent on full-backs. I am not sure if you would have seen that 10 years ago," says Robertson, who may be the bargain of the century at pounds 8 million from Hull City.

"The position has changed a lot. When I was growing up... there were outstanding full-backs, but more as part of the back four, there to help keep the clean sheet.

"Slowly but surely the role started to evolve, with Ashley Cole one of the main reasons for that - how he played for Arsenal and Chelsea."

Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have taken it to another level.

"What was it [last season]? Mid to high-20s contributing goals? It is going to be hard to replicate it, but if we get close it helps the team," he says. "Trent was outstanding all last season but he took it to another level at the end of it and became the best right back in the world.

"But the clean sheets were as important for us. As a pair, I felt our Champions League final performance was as mature a performance as we put in. Once we had the lead we were thinking, 'clean sheet and we win'.

"Near the back end of the season we noticed the emphasis on trying to stop me and Trent doing what we try to do. It is up to us to adapt to that, but if someone is dedicating time to try and stop me and Trent, that is going to create a lot of space for other players."

The smart money is on another title shoot-out with Manchester City.

"We were two clubs in a different league to everyone else last season,"

Robertson acknowledges. "This season, whether we go closer to them or they come closer to us in terms of points remains to be seen, but it would be daft to presume it will be another two-horse race. Man United have spent a lot of money... Arsenal have had a year under their new manager. Chelsea have unbelievable players, and Tottenham have strengthened.

"We got off to a fantastic start last season... that's what we need again.

"Look, Man City deserved to win the league. If you are asking to me now would you take 97 points again this season I will say 'yeah'. I just think it was a special season. But we do not look back with disappointment. We take all the positives.

"Had we not won [the final], it would not have been a disaster, but it would have been hard to take having nothing. That is why we were so determined to get that trophy. And that is why we want more."


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