EPL

Milner admits he could have left Liverpool as he opens up on life under Klopp

By Sports Desk July 04, 2020

James Milner admits leaving Liverpool could have been an option in Jurgen Klopp's first full season at the club after he was asked to play out of position. 

The 34-year-old left Manchester City in 2015 to play more regularly in centre midfield yet spent a lot of the 2016-17 campaign plying his trade at left-back. 

Milner's experience has aided Liverpool in the past few seasons and he signed a new deal in December that runs through to 2022. 

But the former England international could have pushed for a move away three years ago and says it took time to adapt to Klopp's demands on the training pitch. 

On moving to left-back, he told Sky Sports: "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, 'Okay, 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." 

Asked about Klopp's intense training sessions, Milner added: "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 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."

Milner has been restricted to just eight league starts this term, however, and has recently been linked with a move back to boyhood club Leeds United.

The Yorkshire club are on course to earn promotion to the top flight after a 16-year absence and Milner has not ruled out returning at some stage in the future.

"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," he said.

"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."

Related items

  • Juventus appoint Pirlo: Returning heroes - the hits and misses Juventus appoint Pirlo: Returning heroes - the hits and misses

    Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

    Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

    Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

    A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

    He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

    HITS

    Pep Guardiola

    After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

    Zinedine Zidane

    World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

    Antonio Conte

    In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

    Roberto Di Matteo

    Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

    MISSES

    Alan Shearer

    Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

    Filippo Inzaghi

    Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

    Thierry Henry

    Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

    Juan Jose Lopez

    One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

  • Ronaldo calls for 'the best decisions for the future' amid talk of Pirlo replacing Sarri at Juventus Ronaldo calls for 'the best decisions for the future' amid talk of Pirlo replacing Sarri at Juventus

    Cristiano Ronaldo spoke of the importance of making "the best decisions for the future" in the wake of Juventus' Champions League exit and the sacking of Maurizio Sarri.

    Ronaldo scored twice on Friday to give Juve a 2-1 win over Lyon in Turin, but it was not enough to prevent them going out at the last-16 stage on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

    On Saturday, the Bianconeri announced they had sacked head coach Sarri barely a year after he was appointed following his departure from Chelsea.

    Sarri guided Juve to a ninth Serie A title in a row, but defeat to Napoli in the Coppa Italia final and a failure to instil his playing style on the squad had led to doubts about his suitability to the job.

    Andrea Pirlo, who was only appointed coach of the Juventus under-23 team last month, soon emerged as favourite to take charge at the Allianz Stadium.

    Ronaldo urged everyone at Juve to use the short off-season for "critical thinking" so that they can return to satisfy fans' expectations.

    While he did not mention Sarri or the speculation around the coach's possible replacement, the Portugal star made it clear the club now need to get things right.

    "The 2019-20 season is over for us, much later than usual but yet sooner than we expected," Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.

    "Now it's time for reflection, time to analyse the ups and downs because critical thinking is the only way to improve.

    "A huge club such as Juventus must always think like the best in the world, work like the best in the world, so that we can call ourselves one of the best and biggest clubs in the world.

    "Winning the Serie A once again in such a difficult year is something that we are very proud of. Personally, scoring 37 goals for Juventus and 11 for the Portuguese national team is something that makes me face the future with renewed ambition and desire to keep doing better and better each year.

    "But the fans demand more from us. They expect more from us. And we have to deliver, we must live up to the highest expectations.

    "May this short vacation break allow us all to make the best decisions for the future and come back stronger and more committed than ever. See you soon!"

    Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo's former coach at Real Madrid, was fancied by some as a potential candidate to succeed Sarri.

    Italy boss Roberto Mancini, ex-Tottenham man Mauricio Pochettino and Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi were linked with the job in the immediate aftermath of Sarri's departure.

  • Ramos feeling 'bitter' after 'extremely strange' Real Madrid season Ramos feeling 'bitter' after 'extremely strange' Real Madrid season

    Sergio Ramos says Real Madrid have been left with a "bitter aftertaste" after elimination from the Champions League brought their "extremely strange" season to an end.

    The Madrid captain watched from the stands due to suspension as his side lost 2-1 to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Friday, with Pep Guardiola's men advancing to the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

    Madrid won the revamped Supercopa de Espana in January and claimed the LaLiga title after going 11 matches unbeaten when the competition restarted following the coronavirus-enforced break.

    Ramos is proud of those triumphs but accepts being knocked out at the last-16 stage in Europe is not good enough for a club of their stature.

    "An extremely strange season is over and the taste is bittersweet," he wrote on Twitter.

    "This year has been very hard on everyone. But we are Real Madrid and we were set to win everything. Credit must be given to winning the Liga under such exceptional circumstances and the Spanish Supercup.

    "However, being eleminated [sic] from the Champions League leaves us with a bitter aftertaste: we wanted more. Now it is time to rest to come back and fight for the next season. This badge and this history always deserve it all. In victory, in defeat, always: HALA MADRID.

    "Thank you for your unconditional support, even in the distance."

    The next LaLiga season is due to start on September 12.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.