Sunday 18 November 2018

'Three-nil every week is the ideal scoreline for me' - Robertson

The Liverpool full-back tells Chris Bascombe what has changed this season

Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson. Photo: Adam Davy/PA
Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

‘Three-nil every week is the ideal scoreline for me’ – Robertson

“We’ve had more time to work with each other and added Virgil (van Dijk) and Alisson. That’s a big influence,” says Robertson.

“It’s a young back four, but one with lots of experience. Trent (Alexander-Arnold) came back from the World Cup a different player. Look at Joe (Gomez). I didn’t know a lot about him when I joined, but he is unbelievable. If we stay together for six or seven years we will have an unbelievable career.

“Last season we were stretched. A lot of injuries hit at the same time.

“Now there is competition (for places).”

Balance going forward

Robertson spends more time in deeper positions this year. He is surprised to hear that, but has a theory.

“Last season there were games we were 2-0 up and I was bombing forward and James Milner had to cover me. He wasn’t happy and still goes on about it! Maybe I have listened to him more.

“You want to contribute to attack but I will not push on and risk losing the ball.”

 There are regular private consultations. “I sit in video meetings with the manager, assistant manager and two analysts,” says Robertson.

“All the lads do this. You get clips every game. The bigger games you wonder if you could have affected it more going forward. Against lower sides you want to avoid getting caught on counter-attack.

“The manager is always on at me to be more involved. He wants the full-backs up and down.”

Set-piece improvement

Jurgen Klopp is not averse to direct football when it suits. His appointment of throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark in the summer was especially significant for the full-backs’ itinerary.

“When the throw-in coach came in I think I was the main target,” says Robertson. “The manager pulled me to one side and said, ‘You’re definitely getting help’. It’s the small margins that can help. People think a throw-in is not important, but how many times can it relieve pressure or start an attack?

“There is still improvement to do. Every full-back or anyone with a long throw has worked with the throw-in coach. It’s not just the person taking the throw, but the movement expected from everyone else.

“There is a lot more thought and focus going to corners as well and it has worked so far.”

“There have been a few new ideas. The World Cup helped. The manager was watching a lot of teams closely and thinking about what we could add to our game.”

Leadership

Robertson is Scotland’s captain, while Van Dijk leads the Dutch. Dejan Lovren is the most experienced centre-back, Jordan Henderson and Milner command respect as captain and vice-captain, while Georginio Wijnaldum is the “fourth captain”. Suddenly, Klopp has a team of organisers.

“Obviously I’m the better captain,” laughs Robertson. “No, Virgil took the armband when Hendo and James were out, and rightly so. I voted for him. He is a leader. He was captain at Southampton and captain for his country. He has that presence.

“It works in our favour because you need more than one captain on the pitch. Gone are the days of 10 or 15 years ago when maybe it was a Roy Keane or Steven Gerrard who led everyone. Now it is more of a leadership group and that shows on the pitch.”

“There have been a few new ideas. The World Cup helped. The manager was watching a lot of teams closely and thinking about what we could add to our game.”

Hunger for clean sheets

Despite victory over Cardiff last week, there was dismay as Liverpool conceded their first Premier League goal at Anfield since February.

“You could see the back four and ’keeper were especially unhappy. Big Al (Alisson) has got used to clean sheets hasn’t he? It could’ve been avoided,” said Robertson.

“We want to keep a clean sheet every week. If you are gutted when you concede, and hungry not to, it can only work for the team.

“There has been a lot of talk about the defence but we need to continue. If we do win 4-3, we’ll still be happy. Winning is most important, no matter how. Three-nil every week is ideal. It’s more difficult than that.

“But if you’re threatening records it’s not going to be taken as a negative, is it?” (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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