James Milner has now made his imminent transfer to Liverpool and it’s fair to say I, like a number of City fans am sad to see Milner go.
Not many were confident that he would remain with the club considering how late things were left in the contract side of things, but nevertheless it will still be a strange feeling not having such a dependable player around next season.
It was heavily rumoured that City really did do all they could to keep Milner. He was reportedly offered an extortionate amount in wages, £165k to be exact, to remain with the club. Moreover, Manuel Pellegrini has stated his admiration for Milner and the way he approaches his profession. Speaking to the Guardian back in March, he said: “Milner’s a phenomenon, a guy with big balls and a heart this big.
“Intelligent, great mentality, one of those players that when you leave him out you’re left with this feeling of injustice; it hurts because he should always play but sometimes you need a technical player with other characteristics.”
Before adding: “I’m Milner’s no.1 fan.”
The aforementioned quotes really outline Milner’s value to City and are evidence that it was indeed his decision to leave.
I don’t believe wages were the problem by any stretch, but it’s been well-documented that he strives for regular football, and sees himself as a central midfield player by trade. However, those assurances just could not be made at a club of our magnitude and that has been the primary factor in Milner’s transfer to Liverpool.
He is likely to come into the side immediately, perhaps filling in for the vacating Steven Gerrard and adding much-needed steel into the Liverpool side.
At City, the likes of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and even Fernando are ahead of him in the central midfield pecking order, and to be honest, when he has been deployed in that role, he has not been as impressive as he has in other positions. That may have a lot to do with the system we play and how open we are at times, but it’s a popular opinion amongst City fans that he doesn’t have the composure to play central midfield for a team like us.
But that’s not to say he has not been great for us. In fact, he has been a wonderful servant to the club. Incredibly well-regarded here for a plethora of reasons. Inevitably, his unparalled work-rate is a key feature in his game. I have never seen a player covering so much ground and almost endlessly fight for the ball. But it would be foolish to think that Milner is nothing more than a ‘workhorse’. He is a lot better technically than many would like to admit. Adept with both feet, he has been a great foil for the likes of Silva and Aguero and has shown he can compliment some of the finest talents in England.
What is one his most impressive characteristics is undoubtedly his versatility. It’s incredible really that someone can play such a variety of roles and still perform to such a high level. He has played on either flank, central midfield and both full-back roles –and that is just in one game against Chelsea at home. If that’s enough, he added another role to his collection last season; deputising as a lone striker when all our strikers were injured. Remarkably, he excelled and we didn’t lose a game during his stint in attack. His movement was pivotal in creating space for others, he ran the channels superbly as you would expect and even notched up a couple of goals in a dreadful FA Cup performance against Sheffield Wednesday, sparing City’s blushes with two second half goals.
Maybe he will do a job at centre-back at Liverpool at some point. Don’t rule out him going in goal either; Joe Hart has already said in the past that if there was a scenario where a City outfielder would have to go in that, he believes Milner would step up to the plate.
The 29-year old is a great player to have in your ranks. Consistent and reliable, I still cannot fathom why there are people out there who do not rate him. There’s a saying in football that “You don’t know how good a player is until he plays for your team.” I expect this to be the case with Liverpool fans with Milner. You need more than six second vines and Match of the day highlights to judge a player and he is the perfect example.
Milner can always be found on the pitch motivating and inspiring. He is so demanding of himself. If he makes an errant pass or spurns a chance on goal, you can see the utter frustration in his face. A true professional on and off the pitch.
After a great five years in Manchester, the former Leeds man now moves onto his new challenge in Liverpool, where I have no doubts he will be a great asset. I think I speak for most City fans when I say that he will be sorely missed.
Thanks for the memories. The immense performance in the 6-1 annihilation at Old Trafford, that golf-swinging celebration a year later on the same turf, an incredible display to sink reigning European Champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz in 2013/14, another strange celebration at Stoke and of course that boring twitter account that he was the catalyst of.
There’s only one James Milner.
By Manchester City fan, Josh Lawless – follow him on twitter.
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