The Class of 2018/19 is a short series in which, ahead of the new season starting on Friday, The Anfield Talk contributors review the 2018/19 season’s of Liverpool’s squad.
Here @SteveTaylor71 takes a look at how Andy Robertson has performed in the 2018/19 season, charting his main contributions and value to the European Champions.
Andy Robertson must have woken up the morning after the Champions League final win and smiled. Partly with pride and partly in disbelief. Not many players have trodden the path from Queens Park, via Dundee and Hull to arrive in consecutive European finals, finally landing the big one. He was a European Champion and has deserved every accolade that has come his way.
Having cemented his place in the starting XI the season before, Andy Robertson started the season solidly. The opener against West Ham saw a Liverpool win and the first of Andy Robertson’s assists. The competition and friendly rivalry with Trent was great to watch as the two full backs competed to see who could create the most assists for the fearsome front 3, 29 (23 in PL) in total between them and an impressive 13 from Robbo. More importantly, 5 of those assists were the opening goals and highlight the importance of Robbo to Klopp’s system and his ability to break down teams.
Four more league wins followed before the first big test of the season, Spurs away. In reality, the 2-1 scoreline made it look closer than it was, but again Liverpool ran out winners. Robertson’s pass completion rate dropped below 70% as his usual crisp passing didn’t grace the Wembley turf that day. What was noticeable though was how solid Liverpool were looking defensively and Robertson was forming a great partnership with the rest of the back four and Allison, a partnership that would go on to be the best in the Premier League.
Robertson and Liverpool’s domestic form continued and as the season progressed Robertson was standing out more and more. Solid defensively, and with an energetic, almost lung bursting energy going forward he was re-inventing the full back position. Jamie Carragher once famously said that ‘no kid grows up wanting to be a Gary Neville’. Robbo’s popularity was soaring and more and more fans were sporting his name on their backs. Full backs had become cool, and Andy Robertson was one of the main reasons for that.
His relentless consistency continued, and his importance to the team was clear to see with Robbo starting virtually every game. That said, the man is human and with a couple of mistakes at the end of January/start of Feb, and in particular a silly freekick conceded against Leicester coupled with an under-par Liverpool team performance saw us draw 2 games back to back. Tough games followed and so did the draws. The 0-0 against Manchester United was tough to watch, but Robbo gave it his all, and in the 0-0 draw against Everton, Robertson won 5 aerial duals as at times the ball spent more time in the air than on the floor. Robertson though was back to his best.
The domestic season ended with Robertson being named in the PFA team of the year and he was roundly praised as the stand out left back in the Premier League.
What about Europe?
Robertson’s consistency and energy continued. The group stages saw a more conservative approach away from home though, and results suffered.
Ahead of Matchday 1, Robertson said ‘This is the perfect game for us after the disappointment of losing the final last season’. He played like every Liverpool fan would with his heart on his sleeve and giving everything he had to the cause. Neymar, Mbappe and co. were beaten and the reds had kicked off their campaign in style. Away defeats to Napoli, Red Star and PSG saw the reds needing to beat Napoli at home. Another big night and big performances saw the reds through to face a mouthwatering round of 16 tie against German giants Bayern Munich. The return leg had Robertson dreaming and he was quoted as saying ‘I would go as far as to say it was the biggest performance our Champions League season because we really showed again we could go far’.
Porto followed before a huge clash against Barca.
Having actually played well in the Camp Nou, the scoreline said otherwise and Liverpool had been beaten 3-0. The return leg saw a determined Robertson go head to head with Suarez and Messi again. Roughing up Messi’s hair as he sat on the Anfield turf endeared him more to Liverpool fans around the world, and his battle with Suarez was pure theatre.
Suarez was a bit naughty and Robertson’s night finished earlier than expected, but the Liverpool juggernaut didn’t as the reds powered past Barca to set up a final against Spurs. The rest as they say is history. In years to come the iconic image of him draped in the Scotland flag celebrating the Champions League win with Klopp will no doubt be a picture he will look back on with immense pride.
So, how do you summarise a season like that? Quite simply, Andy Robertson has re-invented the full back position and he is such a vital part of the Klopp system it is hard to imagine the Liverpool team without him. Liverpool fans have taken him to their hearts and it feels like his energy is fuelled by the belief and songs that pour from the terraces. He is one of us, and plays like it.
The sheer nature of the man though is that he wants to get better. He wants to beat Trent in the assist battle, he wants that Premier League title and he wants to continue to improve as a footballer. The fact that he was appointed captain of his country in September 2018 speaks volumes for him. Domestically and Internationally, he is at the top of his game.
At 25, there is so much more to look forward to with him in our side. One thing is certain, he will look back at last year as his best yet,..and the scary thing is that we all think there is more to come.