As Liverpool‘s first day of pre-season training started, there was a lot of excitement about the new players that had joined us over the summer.
Naby Keita‘s deal was done a season back but seeing him in the flesh was fantastic and then the signing out of the blue, Fabinho was also present at Melwood as Jurgen Klopp decided to run the players through some drills.
Keita is expected to be our midfield dynamo next season but he failed in one major test – he could not outpace and defeat our stallion in midfield, James Milner.
The Daily Mail reports that Milner won the lactate challenge on the first day of training. This is coming from a 32-year-old over some players who are almost a decade younger than him.
Milner beat the likes of Adam Lallana, Keita, Fabinho and Danny Ings; the man is a machine and he will be extremely important for us next season.
A couple of years ago, Alberto Moreno was having a crisis as the left-back and up stepped Milner to take over the spot. He had not played much in that role and is a right-footer but he adjusted to the position and did extremely well.
Milner did not have the pace to track the pacey wingers but he knew how to deal with it all. The same thing was in view when Milner was played in the midfield, and has even stepped up out on the wings during his time at Newcastle and Manchester City.
Many of us questioned the logic of signing the former City man on a free transfer but if there is one player who can be seen as a role model by the youngsters, it is Milner.
You barely hear anything from him on social media. There is no controversy and the 32-year-old just gets on with his job.
With no Steven Gerrard in the side, we needed someone to be the old head and Milner is the man. He has a number of medals to show to the Liverpool players too.
While we can talk about Keita making our midfield one of the best in England or the possibility of us signing a world-class attacker, it is Milner who will have a huge role to play for us this season.
Milner will possibly fill the hole left by Emre Can in the heart of the midfield. Last season, we did struggle when the German was out injured and with Jordan Henderson taking part in the World Cup, Milner will also be the senior professional in the pre-season, telling Keita what has to be done.
The 32-year-old will not be a first-team starter unless someone gets injured or is in horrible form, and that is a possibility he would know about.
This isn’t to say that Milner would be happy to just sit and take a place on the bench. Jurgen Klopp does make some tough decisions and the same can apply to anyone in the side.
The energy, doggedness and calm that Milner provides to the team is immense and he will be used in a lot of cup games. But we have to prepare for the future and the inevitability that the 32-year-old will not be playing a lot of football in the coming years.
However, he still has a lot of running in him, as seen in pre-season and if we can tap that well, Milner can be part of the Liverpool setup under Klopp for a number of years.
If not as a player, he must surley take up a role in management, just like Gerrard has done.
The best outcome for Milner would be to pick up a medal during his time at Liverpool. We have been lacking trophies in recent years and with a few more additions, we really can challenge for laurels and pick up a trophy or two.
And if anyone can keep the team grounded and prepare them for more trophies and success, it has to be Milner.