Is this real life? I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watching Liverpool play host to Crystal Palace in their Premier League home opener. There was a young lad wearing No. 26 that was racing up and down the field pumping dangerous crosses into the box only to be seen moments later breaking up the play at his own end. This was, of course, Liverpool new left back Andrew Robertson making his competitive debut for the Reds in front of the Anfield faithful. My what a debut it was.
The left back position has been somewhat of a turnstile in recent years for Liverpool as they have struggled to find a player that has made the job their own. Ironically, the player with the most success in recent memory was a converted midfielder in James Milner. When you are forced to play a central midfielder as one of your fullbacks, you have glaring holes to fill.
While Manchester City spent £50 million on the likes of Benjamin Mendy from Monaco, the Liverpool board quietly secured a modest £8 million deal with Hull City for the 23-year-old Scot. Not flashy in name or style, Robertson showed Jurgen Klopp and fans what having a proper left back can do for a side.
He was a constant presence on the left wing in attack as he continuously fed ball after ball into the area as if his life depended on it. Were Joel Matip more accurate with his head he would have had an assist inside of 15 minutes.
However, unlike someone like Alberto Moreno who runs forward but looks confused once he arrives, Robertson showed composure in tight spaces as he was not afraid to play the short pass to maintain possession in the attacking third. He even took a few strikes at goal in the second half as you could see his confidence growing with each passing minute.
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) August 19, 2017
While his attacking rate was superb, it was his ability to instantly switch to defender in a flash that was just as impressive. While Liverpool have seen many fullbacks get caught shockingly out of position, Robertson showed no signs of having that issue.
He had a few shaky clearances early on, but the fact he was simply in the right position was refreshing to see. While his game might not be the most explosive or aesthetically pleasing, he seems to be a proper left back that should slide into his role nicely as the season wears on.
STAT: Robertson had more touches of the ball (134) in this one game than Wijnaldum did in all three of the first three games combined (127).
Yes I am fully aware this is only one game of many. I also am fully aware it was bloody fantastic beginning to a Liverpool career. There will obviously be growing pains and errors will happen. That’s just football, but if we see constant professional performances like this from Robertson he will pay back his fee tenfold by seasons end.
Forget Moreno, Milner or Joe Gomez. This is his position now and it shouldn’t even be a second thought going forward. A run of efforts like this and No. 26 might not be so unknown after all. His high level work rate on both ends are perfect for a Klopp system and it will be a treat to watch him grow and develop his game as weeks turn into months.
It’s still early days, but it looks like Liverpool finally found their left back. I think I speak for most pundits and fans when I say, it’s about damn time.