James Milner: We want to show a response against Palace

InterviewJames Milner: We want to show a response against Palace

By Sam Williams


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James Milner has outlined the determination within Liverpool's squad to produce a formidable response to their opening-day disappointment when Crystal Palace visit Anfield.

A below-par performance at Craven Cottage last Saturday saw the Reds start their Premier League season with a 2-2 draw with Fulham.

Jürgen Klopp’s side’s next assignment comes in L4 on Monday evening, with Patrick Vieira’s Eagles providing the opposition in their first home game of the new campaign.

“Obviously it comes from the manager as well but we know the levels weren’t [where] we would like,” Milner told Liverpoolfc.com, when asked if the players have shared the responsibility of finding out why their levels dropped in west London with Klopp.

“There’s discussions amongst the players also on what we can do better and how we can improve. Everyone will go home and look at their own performance as well. That’s for us to improve on for sure, nobody takes that lightly.

“We know the level that is expected of us and the level we want to produce. Nobody is bigger critics than the boys in the dressing room. It’s disappointing but it’s one that hopefully we can bounce back from in a strong way on Monday.”

Read on for the rest of our pre-Palace chat with the vice-captain…

On the draw at Craven Cottage being a disappointment...

Yeah, I think so. Obviously you want to start with the three points [and] we didn’t manage to do that and the performance wasn’t at the level we would like as well, so that was disappointing. But it gives us something to improve on. It was our own doing but it’s not like we’re in bad form because we played so well the week before. That’s the disappointing thing, we haven’t managed to replicate the form from the Community Shield, but that’s for us to work hard and try to work out why and bounce back this week.

On whether there were any positives to take from the game at Fulham...

I think it’s important that you saw the fight there. It was definitely there. Obviously going behind and coming back, we probably did have the odd chance there where we could go and win it and you think we’ve absolutely robbed a win - it could’ve been one of those days. That’s pleasing that we were fighting until the end even though things weren’t going our way and we weren’t playing well. We kept pushing and Harvey coming off the bench and Darwin making a big impact - that’s important. You need that in a season and with the injuries we have now it’s important that the full squad is ready to go and ready to make an impact.

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On whether this year feels any different entering his 21st Premier League season...

Not really. I just carry on and keep trying to do the same thing. We’ve talked about [it] before, [in] every interview you do it’s about how old you are and ‘when are you finishing?’ and ‘what you are doing afterwards?’ and things like that, and: ‘How are you still walking?!’ It’s part of it, I’ve had the full circle. I had it when I started, ‘You’re so young, how are you doing it...’ so it’s strange in that aspect because it only seems two minutes for me since I was starting and I was the young guy in the dressing room and now I’m the old guy. It’s been a great journey up to now and it’s one that I want to continue and keep pushing and keep winning trophies.

On whether injuries in the squad might offer him more opportunities...

For me, I want the team to do as well as possible and that always comes first. So, for that you want everybody to be fit so you’ll never look at injuries as a good thing. I know my role this year isn’t going to be playing every minute but it’s when needed and where needed fill that gap and make an impact and do what you can. I need to make sure I’m ready for that and it could be in a number of positions as well. It’s one of those, you’re coming on and then I have to ask what position I’m going on so it could be a few, but that’s what I’m ready for and something that I want to contribute as much as I can. I still feel I can play a big part at this football club and help the club achieve things.

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On making 200 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League and there being plenty left in the tank...

I think if you’d have said what’s happened when I signed would happen, I definitely would’ve taken that. It’s been a great journey up until this point, you see the transition of the team from the manager coming in to having those days where we could beat anyone and then be not quite as good and inconsistent. The consistency came and the trophies came. Being part of that and seeing how the team has involved has been fantastic. It doesn’t feel like it’s a journey that’s ready to end, personally or as a group. I think there is definitely more to give but that doesn’t just happen. You’re not entitled to that, you’re not a good team last year so you’re going to win things this year. That does not happen in football. We have to make it happen. It’s down to the work on the training field, being ready every single game and ready to fight through things like injuries, suspensions and travelling. Three games a week, getting back late from European [games], it’s all part of it and how you deal with that. We have to make sure that we’re better than anyone to do it and a better team than last season because everyone else is improving. We have to improve as well.

On returning to Anfield and facing Palace...

Pat has got them playing well. They’ve got some good players. He has got them well organised, and they’ll like a tackle. If it’s a Patrick Vieira team they’ll like to go and impose themselves on the game. It will be a very tough game but Anfield under the lights, first home game of the season. It’s important we get a win but hopefully there’s that special atmosphere at Anfield and that’ll hopefully help us bounce back from the disappointment of the first game of the season and kick into life. The home games are so important so the first one is important to get off and running with a win.

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