|Desc||One of the most versatile players in Premier League history, with successful spells at Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool. A two-time title winner who seems to get better with age|
|Org||xxxx National Team|
|Club as Player||Leeds United|
2019 11 02 Retrieve
[James Milner reveals that he talks in Spanish in his sleep] I started using a sleeptalking app years ago. I don’t use it every day but Robbo [Andy Robertson] and I had a laugh. Robbo said: ‘I also talk in my sleep’. So we used it and we found it was me who was doing most of the talking – in Spanish. Robbo was making farm noises
2020 05 01 Retrieve
[James Milner is proud to be following in the footsteps of the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Steve McManaman and Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s No.7 and is determined to help the club land more major silverware] I was desperate to get a trophy for this club. You walk into Melwood every day and you see the trophies the club has won every single day. Getting to the Champions League final the year before, going close in the Premier League, the Europa League final and the League Cup final, having those near misses. That obviously made it even more special when we got there, but it’s a massive thing playing for a club the size of Liverpool. When you see the history and every day you see the players who have played, the players who have pulled on the No.7 shirt before me. When you are playing, playing at Anfield and you get a taste of that atmosphere. You get to finals, but you are not quite getting over the line - to finally get over the line and contribute number six, which we know how massive that is for the club, how important it is and the relationship the club has with the European Cup.
It’s a similar thing that we had at Man City. It was so important to get off the mark and win that first trophy and it was massive for us as a group. It’s always important to win that first one and we managed to get the Super Cup and the World Championship this year and it’d be nice to add more. But it was big to get over the line and add that first one together as a team and that then gives you all the tools to go on and push on, and hopefully we can win more. We don’t want to be known as the team that won just that one trophy, we want to push on and see if we can win as many as we can
2020 05 02 Retrieve
[James Milner says Van Dijk is more of a Rolls Royce than Kompany] They are massive players. You always look at the spine of a successful team and it starts right through the middle with the leaders at the back and how important defending is. Vinny - unbelievable player. How he went about his business, he struggled with injuries but the amount of injuries you saw him play through as well which nobody would have ever known, was incredible. He would put his head on the line. An unbelievable leader, a great captain with so many great qualities on that side, and rightly so, one of the greatest defenders to play in the Premier League. Virgil is probably a bit different to that. Maybe a bit more of a Rolls Royce, if you like, and he doesn’t seem to make too many tackles. He gets in the right spot and moves the ball away. Maybe he’s got a few more diagonals in his locker than Vinny had, although Vinny did have that as well. And Vinny had the greatest ball strike, I suppose, when he lashed one into the top corner! So, he could strike a ball alright as well
2020 06 16 Retrieve
[James Milner believes Virgil van Dijk ranks alongside the best defenders ever to have played in the Premier League] He’s right up there. I’ve been very fortunate to have played with some amazing centre-halves. You look at Rio [Ferdinand], Jonathan Woodgate, Vinny Kompany, and Virg is right in there with all those guys. He reads the game so well, he’s quick, he’s strong, he’s good on the ball, he’s a good communicator and he’s deadly in the air. And his positioning is so good. You can see that after the game when you look at how far players have run. He’s run miles less than everyone else, even the other centre-halves, and you think ‘how is that possible?’ but it’s because he reads the game so well. He’s an incredible player for us, and a big part of what we do. The spine in the team is massive and he is obviously a rock in that defence.
Liverpool put the clip out recently. The ball has come over his shoulder, he’s got a forward sprinting to close him down, hunting him down into the corner and he’s just knocked it over his shoulder, first-time, into my path. It was one of those moments in a game where I nearly stopped and applauded before I controlled the ball myself! It was ridiculous defending, but that’s the sort of thing he does
Hopefully he’ll keep improving as well. But the players he has around him – Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren – I don’t think their impact on him can be lost either. Virgil gets a lot of credit and rightly so, but look at the rest of the back four and the goalkeeper, look at the screening of the midfield, and look at the other centre-halves alongside him. The competition is massive in the team, but really Virg is there and it’s about who will partner him.
I think any time you play a derby, whether it’s a behind-closed-doors friendly match at the training ground or a Premier League game, with or without fans, both clubs are desperate to win. We’re playing for the fans whether they’re there or not. We know how much it means to them. They’ve got to walk around the city and see each other regularly, so we need to give them those bragging rights. It’s straight into the deep end with a derby first up, but maybe that’s a good thing. There’s no time to ease yourself in, it’ll be flat out from the first minute and that’s what we’ve been preparing for. Hopefully we can start well and get back on the run we were on before we finished
The fans are part of everything we do. The support they give us is amazing. But as long as the fans know that they are with us and that we are playing for them, that’s what matters. They’re still a massive part of what we do. We just need to do this small period without them. They’ve had a long wait and we’ll be pushing as hard as we can to secure that league title
2020 06 19 Retrieve
[Reds vice-captain James Milner believes Minamino can be Liverpool’s secret weapon] Taki has looked fantastic coming back in. This period might have helped him settle in, feeling like he’s been at the club longer than he has, really. It’s given him that extra time to get used to things. It’s difficult coming in in the middle of a season, getting used to how a team plays. It’s hard to do that when you’re preparing for a game every three days. This period I’m sure will have helped him and hopefully he can have a positive impact
[Milner believes they have the depth to cope with the demands of the coming weeks] It’s an important time. Everyone is in the same boat, nobody is going to be at 100 per cent. You can train on your own as much as you want, but your legs are not going to be used to a 90-minute Premier League game because they haven’t done it for so long. There has been a change to the amount of substitutes, which will be massive and will give more players a chance. I’m sure also, unfortunately, that there will be injuries. That’s a given, because there always is. So we’re going to need everybody, right down to the young boys. We’ve got some fantastic young players coming through. We’ve seen bits and bobs of them, and maybe we’ll see some more before the end of the season. We’re going to need absolutely everybody. Any time you achieve anything, it’s a massive team effort.
2020 06 25 Retrieve
[Reds veteran James Milner stresses the title win was spurred on by the club falling short last season] It shows the character in the squad to get so close last time and to go again. We have proven we are fuelled by disappointment and learning. I am sure the hunger will stay and we want to keep being successful. It is absolutely massive, to get over the line is huge
2020 06 28 Retrieve
[Man City will raise their game so we have to keep pushing] It’s about getting that balance right between enjoying it and getting ready to go again. You see how difficult it is for any team to defend the title. City managed it last season, when they got 98 points, but they tried twice before and failed. Those two times I was there we were never at the races – and that was everybody. That’s something I’ve learned from. This team has proved we can react well and go again after a disappointment. We came back from losing the Champions League final and we’ve come back from finishing second with 97 points, but it’s a new challenge to go again when you’ve been successful. Can we deal with that? Can we keep showing that hunger and keep playing in the same way?
Being as good next year as we have been this year won’t be enough because City will raise their game and so will Manchester United and other clubs. All these teams are pushing for the top and when you’re right at the very top everyone wants to take it away from you. We are now there to be shot at – and we have to be big enough to deal with that. We have to keep pushing. I don’t think this team would ever go into autopilot. I don’t think we have those sort of characters or attitude but that’s the challenge now. It doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to win it again, we know how good Man City and other teams are. We know this will hurt Man City so they’ll come back firing – but it’s down to us to try and go again.
[Milner went on to insist that Liverpool are fully focused on finishing the 2019-20 campaign strongly with a view to setting a new points mark] It’s definite motivation. Not so much the record, I think it is just the responsibility of pulling on a Liverpool shirt and going out with that responsibility to win a game. That is what is expected of us and you are always pushing to be the best you can. And how many chances do you get to reach that amount of points, it is incredible. You wouldn’t want to look back and think ‘Oh, we won the title but the last seven games we were poor, we didn’t get at it’.
And obviously with not knowing how long we will get off once we complete the season, these next games are sort of preparation for going into next season as well. It’s so important that we keep getting up to speed and back up to that level, so we will be pushing as hard as we can to finish the season strongly. That’s why it’s so important to finish with as many points as we can but also take that stepping stone for next season.
2020 06 28b Retrieve
[Liverpool braced for Manchester City revival] You see how difficult it is for any team to defend the title. [Manchester] City managed it last season but they tried twice before and failed. The two times I was there in seasons after winning titles we were never at the races. That’s something I’ve learnt from. This Liverpool team has shown we can deal with disappointment. Can we now show that we can deal with success? Being as good next year as we’ve been this year wont be enough, City will raise their game and so will other clubs
2020 07 05 Retrieve
[James Milner exclusive: There from the start at Liverpool] To see one of the young lads throwing up on the side of the training field in one of his first training sessions, that sets the tone, you know what you’re in for. We had to adapt to that, there were a lot of injuries early on. People were saying, ‘You can’t do that!’ You could, you just had to get used to it. Straight away you saw the tempo and the intensity in that first game at Spurs
It was ridiculous really, it wasn’t like we had played at a slow tempo under Brendan [Rodgers]. That journey started then with the manager’s methods and how he wanted us to play. You saw it come in bit by bit. One week the quality would be there and the next week we would be miles off it. That was a process again; the consistency started to come in and, eventually, learning how to win ugly and become a more rounded team
All his training sessions are based around how we play. You’re reacting to the next situation, always being switched on. If you are doing a shooting drill there might be three balls coming in at once. You might be passing one and a millisecond later there’s another one coming at you to shoot. It’s a bit different to anything I’ve done before, it’s based around needing to be switched on at all times in a game. Defensively, as well, it’s not training man-for-man or two blocks of four, it is doing two or three jobs at once.
It was what the manager needed at the time. There’s always going to be positions you prefer but you do what’s needed for the team. I suppose at that point I could have turned around and said, ‘No I don’t want to do that, I want to leave’.
He came to ask me to do it in pre-season and my mindset was, ‘OK, how can I be the best I can be in that position?’ and I started to learn the role. A few of the boys were a bit surprised when we set up at pre-season training the next day and I was at left-back, but that was part of the fun
Yeah I think so, you can see how he is around the team, but it’s also wanting to be part of that. Do you want to walk away from Liverpool and a manager of his calibre and not be part of something? I did the job as best I could and the year after that I don’t know what was in his mind. Maybe he thought, ‘Left-back, that’s him done,’ so it was a challenge to force my way back into the reckoning in midfield and I managed to do that
There are times in a game where situations are different and you have to adapt to that, maybe take the sting out of the game if you’re ahead. Maybe put a tackle in to get the crowd up, to set the press and get the tempo up. I would never, ever go into a tackle to hurt somebody, that’s not something I would ever do, but you can go in and let them know you’re there. You can win the ball and be fair and put in a decent tackle, that’s still allowed, that’s part of the game.
It’s changed a bit since I first came through as a winger, when the first tackle was free. The ball would come into my feet and I’d get launched in the first few minutes and there would be nothing more than a quick chat. The game has changed but getting in a big tackle or putting a press on, they’re important moments in a game and there’s a few in the team who can do that.
It was great to be all together, that was special. Watching that game and getting over the line together with everything that has gone on. It’s taken a lot of effort, patience and mental strength. Coming back from the disappoint of the year before and everything you go through in a league season.
It’s always special and I knew how big it would be for the club when I first signed if we could win the league here. We know how long they’ve waited, the amazing support we’ve been given at every single game, whether it’s been around the world or at home. You can see what it means to everybody
You never know in football, what’s around the corner, but I just want to contribute and win as many trophies as I can for Liverpool and add to the great history here. I’m biased, but I think the Premier League will be a better place for Leeds in it, and it will be weird to play against them next season
It seems a long time ago since I pulled on that shirt, you look back at photos and see how big the shirts were back then. Plenty has changed since then, unfortunately I was part of the team that got relegated and they haven’t come back and recovered just yet. It would be great to see them back next season and their fans are incredible as well
There are opportunities outside football when you’ve finished, sometimes you look at coaching or management and think that would be good. Then you see managers being sacked after eight games and think, ‘Nah, that’s not for me.’
My thoughts change day by day, but I think it would be a shame to move out of football when I’ve been so fortunate to work with the managers and players that I have done. With the experience and knowledge I’ve gained from those amazing people, it would be a shame to leave the game and not give that back to people coming through