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Stephen Warnock
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Club as Player Liverpool FC
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2019 06 29 Retrieve

[Stephen Warnock says Andy Robertson is arguably the best left-back in the world] Both Andy and Trent on the other side had incredible seasons. I think last season with the protection that Andy got from the midfielders, whether that be Fabinho, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum or Jordan Henderson, he knew he was able to make those runs forward without leaving gaps behind him. When he is going forward, the quality of delivery he possesses is brilliant. You see a lot of full-backs or wingers who get in a good position and they panic and try and overhit the ball. But the one thing you see with Robbo and Trent is they don’t panic and they have composure; they slow themselves down in those positions and their quality comes out.

The biggest thing for me with Robbo is - and I know everyone talks about his assists and quality going forward - defensively he is superb. Your modern day full-back can often attack, but can he defend? Robbo can do both comfortably and for me, and I’ve said it before, he is arguably the best left-back in the world at the moment.

[Warnock added on Robertson, who is now a Champions League winner and skipper of his country] He is Scotland’s captain on merit. When he first came into the club, I don’t think at the time anyone would have predicted just what he has gone on to achieve so far and the level he is playing at. Would Jurgen Klopp have thought that? I’m sure he would have thought he would have gone on to a certain level, but to the level he actually has? You have to give Robbo so much credit for that. Maybe part of it is working day in, day out in an environment like Liverpool’s with world-class players. That can bring the best out of you. When you’re making your runs down the wing and crossing balls, and they’re finding your teammates’ runs and you’re clicking, then you are going up 10 or 15 per cent

2019 09 26 Retrieve

[Stephen Warnock says Harvey Elliott showed a maturity way beyond his years on his Liverpool debut in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday] [He showed] a maturity way beyond his years. Often you see youngsters, 16 years old, and they take too many touches because they’re nervous, they want to get the ball under control. He’s pinging balls in, one-touch and round the corner, clever play. I thought his miss last night, when he hit the crossbar early on from so close, might have dented his confidence. It didn’t at all. This guy is full of confidence and you could see it in his performance, how well he did. Very unfortunate not to score late on, he can be delighted with his performance

[Warnock feels the academy graduates have already taken on board Klopp’s unique philosophy] They all try and play in a similar way. If you are going to progress into Jurgen Klopp’s team, you need to be able to play in the positions that he has on the pitch - whether that be in the front three, the midfield three or the back four. You’ve got to understand what he’s looking for, and that will be filtered down to the academy staff from Jurgen Klopp. That is massively important. Last night when the players were on the pitch you could see they understood what the rotations were, defensively what they had to do. That is part of the blueprint that Jurgen Klopp is passing down to the academy

2019 10 24 Retrieve

[Stephen Warnock warns Jordan Henderson his place in Jurgen Klopp’s strongest XI may be under threat] In their next game, at home to Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, who he picks might also depend on how he thinks Spurs will line up. If Tottenham play in a 3-5-2 shape then Klopp will want someone in midfield who can get between their lines to cause problems. You would think that someone would be Oxlade-Chamberlain - especially given the form he is in. I would expect [Georginio] Wijnaldum to come back into the team too and with Fabinho cemented in the side, that would mean no place for Liverpool’s captain, Henderson. That would not be a message that Henderson is out of favour, though. Far from it.

When you are part of a squad at a club like Liverpool or City, you have to understand that the team is being picked to win a specific game, and if you are left out it is nothing personal. All of Liverpool’s midfielders are going to have a part to play in the next few weeks, especially if Klopp decides to rest some of them in certain games - but I would urge caution there. Liverpool’s next game in Champions League Group E is at home to Genk on Tuesday 5 November, before they play champions Manchester City at Anfield five days later.

There will be plenty of people who will want Klopp to put out a weakened team against the Belgians, but my mind-set would be not to take any chances. If I were a Liverpool player, I would want to go into the City game feeling sharp and I would not want a week off beforehand. Klopp will know far more about their fatigue levels, however, and that is another area where he has got some big decisions to make.

2019 12 02 Retrieve

[Stephen Warnock says Kylian Mbappe to Liverpool is plausible] I just think because of the way Liverpool have elevated themselves in the last couple of years under Jurgen Klopp, people are now putting stories together linking them with the best players in the world. Let’s be honest, why wouldn’t they want to play under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool? The atmosphere is incredible and so is the manager. They have reached two Champions League finals in the last two seasons and a Europa League final not long before that. It’s very appealing to go to Liverpool at the moment.

Would Mbappe go to Liverpool? You know what, why wouldn’t he come? Why wouldn’t he want to play against the best players in the Premier League and really test himself? I think the one problem we face over here with players like that is they often feel like they can only win the Ballon d’Or if they go to Real Madrid or Barcelona. Why can’t there be a shift? Why can’t there be a Premier League team who dominates Europe for a number of years?

He is obviously a player who you would love to see in the Premier League. I would love to see him at Liverpool. Whether it will happen or not, I’m not so sure. That’s only something he would answer. It will also depend on the form of Barcelona and Real Madrid. If he feels that those sides are not close to winning the Champions League, then maybe that’s something he might look at

Everyone who comes to the club always talks about how Jurgen Klopp was the main reason why they came. They know the history and what that’s about but they come for the manager and he has now won a trophy. Players know if they are going to go and play for Klopp that they are going to enjoy their football. That comes from Jurgen Klopp. No disrespect but if five or ten years ago it was Roy Hodgson picking up the phone, you wouldn’t be as interested in signing for the club. Now there is one of the best managers in football picking up the phone. The stadium, the infrastructure, the academy and the Anfield Road plan coming to fruition. It is all progressive stuff. They are all positive things. Klopp has definitely got a big pulling power and so has the club now

2020 01 06 Retrieve

[Former Reds defender Stephen Warnock is not surprised to see Curtis Jones the youngster thriving after first spotting his ability in an U18 game at St George’s Park when Gerrard was coaching in the youth ranks] I remember coming off the pitch and saying to Steven, ‘who’s the number 10?’ Because he just glides past players, making it look so effortless, so easy. Steven turned around and said Jones has everything to become a top player. If his attitude is right, he’ll make it to the top. That’s coming from someone like Steven. Jones is maturing and is under the right manager who is giving him trust to go out and express himself, to play the way he wants

There is an incredible balance to Liverpool’s squad. To put the Liverpool record on the line at Anfield, by putting a young team out like that and believe they can get the right result, I thought it was brilliant. The biggest challenge for Klopp was how you are going to manage being in so many competitions this season with the squad you have. It was a risk and it paid off

2020 03 02 Retrieve

[Stephen Warnock says Liverpool need to get Joe Gomez back alongside Virgil van Dijk as quickly as possible] I’ve said for a long, long time now that Joe Gomez makes Van Dijk such a better player. Van Dijk has that opportunity to go tight to players because he knows Gomez has that pace in behind. Gomez can give you two or three yards - he will still catch you. So he [Van Dijk] knows that he can go tight himself. I just think the way Gomez plays as well suits Van Dijk. Partnerships are not always the ones that you think will work as well as they do. They complement each other so well

2020 04 16 Retrieve

[Warnock was at Anfield for Liverpool’s last fixture, their Champions League last-16 defeat to Atletico Madrid on March 11] You and I were at the game. The first thing I heard when I got to the ground was that the tunnel was shut. No media. Protect the players at all costs. If we’re honest we were all a bit blasé about it, we didn’t realise the severity of disease, just how contagious it was. We were all sat in the media room, anyone could have had it and we wouldn’t have had a clue. It’s only come to light in recent weeks just how bad it is. Before that there was naivety from a lot of people thinking it wouldn’t affect them, and now we’re seeing the full effects. Looking back, it is surprising game went ahead. The biggest surprise to me was that Madrid fans weren’t allowed to travel in Spain, but were allowed to come to England, we don’t know the impact that that decision had, do we? I’m surprised it took so long, seeing how quickly other leagues reacted. I don’t think it had hit our country the way it hit others, but the Premier League thought they could ride it out for longer. Looking back - was it the right thing to do?

No one can prepare for this. World leaders don’t know how to deal with it, so how do you deal with it from a football perspective? The country, the world, has come to a halt. At the end of the day, for the players football is a job. When they can’t go to work, they’re going to be affected. The hardest thing is that it’s out of your hands. You can’t go into training to train harder; someone could pull the plug on the whole thing. The mindset of the Liverpool players has been so positive, they just have to be ready for whatever comes. There’s no other way. If you start thinking negatively it won’t achieve anything.

I think it might also offer some perspective for players. For a footballer, there are days when you think ‘I can’t be bothered with this’ and it does become a job. I know fans will say ‘if I could change positions with you just for a day’. I get that. This step away shows players what could be taken away from them. It’s almost like players now can get the feeling that I got when I retired, it’s been taken away you can’t do anything about it. I miss it like crazy, the banter in the dressing room, and players will be craving it now, believe me. They’ll have their WhatsApp groups and their chats, but it soon slows down. You have to change your mentality and look forward, think of the positives. The biggest thing is to try and put yourself in a routine, set a goal every day. The people around you are so important

2020 04 27 Retrieve

[Since that game against Leicester, Jurgen Klopp’s side have almost doubled their lead at the top to 25 points] That was another moment in the season where everyone looked, they had gone to Leicester and destroyed them. Leicester were second in the league at the time and everyone thought if Leicester were to win the game or draw, it would draw people back in. It was the best display of the season, for me

2020 05 25 Retrieve

The worst thing was the flight home, though. They put the wives of those who had played on the plane, ahead of some players who had made key contributions in Europe that season, which was just shocking. We got back to John Lennon Airport on a later flight to the team and, when we landed, the victory parade had already started. You could not get to the bus because of the crowds, so I just went home. That was the moment I made my mind up that I had to leave the club

2020 06 15 Retrieve

[Football club owners must ask themselves why the number of black managers in the game remains so low, according to former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock] This is a question more for owners of football clubs - people who are employing people. Are they getting the same opportunities? We’re not sure. You look at the Rooney rule when that was brought in. We had a similar sort of thing coming into the game in England and the Premier League, the Football League and the FA. What’s the process that clubs go through and how do they look at managers?

[Spells at Macclesfield and MK Dons preceded the former Manchester United midfielder’s move to Blackburn, and Warnock insists each individual should be appointed on ability - not skin colour] It wasn’t even a talking point. It wasn’t even something that had crossed any of the players’ minds at all. He was the right man for the job. He had done a great job at Macclesfield then he did a good job at MK Dons and he deserved a shot at coming into Blackburn and being a Premier League manager. There was nothing about race discussed in any way, and nor should there be. He was there on merit as being the worthy candidate who got the job