James Milner

James Milner
Image from: tribune.com.pk

James Milner signed for Liverpool in the summer on a Bosman 'free' transfer following the end of his contract with Manchester City. Before he signed, the argument on the Liverpool site was purely about whether or not he lacked quality, as his work rate was seen as exemplary. Since then, there has been disquiet over his wages, as he became the highest paid player at the club, and his appointment as vice captain. So how has he done since he joined the Reds?

First off, his main strength was always considered his crossing, that, along with his workrate, was why he was always so well trusted on the wings, either wing, by previous managers. Unfortunately his main strength was negated in the early part of his career, as he was used in central midfield, which is the position he wishes to play. Since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Milner has often played in a wider role, but he has very rarely got himself into a position to put crosses in, nor has he produced good crosses regularly enough when he has had the chance.

His workrate, in terms of running, is among the best in the league, he always seems to be chasing back and forth, usually mindlessly, but it is difficult to complain about a lack of effort, so it is odd that he is guilty of so many lazy decisions. Strangely though, it is often a feature of his game, picking up lazy, needless bookings or going to ground to make a silly challenge rather than run back. It is something that defies explanation, being honest, that a player can run so much, yet make those kind of challenges to avoid having to run.

All that running is often wasted or even a hindrance to the team, as his forward runs often tend to just be where the ball is and he can constantly be found getting in the way of the man on the ball. Milner simply does not have the quality of touch to play the quick one touch passing that is required in close quarters, which means that moves lose their impetus or even break down because he gets in too close. What he needs to be doing is getting the ball with one touch to get it out from his feet and putting in the cross or running onto a ball which he crosses first time. That is what he does best, but he is trying too hard to prove that there is more to his game, rather than playing to his strengths.

For a number of games, with club captain Jordan Henderson out injured, Milner was captain, but during those matches he showed a complete lack of leadership and direction on the pitch, at a time when Liverpool desperately needed both. As the Brendan Rodgers-era spiralled out of control into a shambolic period of discontent, Milner's lack of leadership was in evidence both on the pitch and off it, and it was probably just as much of a relief for him, as anyone else, when a change of manager brought Jurgen Klopp in to take the weight off his shoulders.

While Milner's performances have shown little real sign of improvement in terms of quality, he has moved out wide, where his energy and non-stop running can have more of an impact. Even so, it often seems like he is getting in the way, as he tries to provide an extra option where there are already a number of Liverpool players available for a pass. That might simply be caused by him trying too hard to make an impact, along with the players still learning how to play together as a unit with a new style of play.

Previously Milner has played for Newcastle United, Leeds United and Aston Villa.