Andy Robertson: The left-back that is the heart and soul of Liverpool

The Scot has an energising presence on the pitch, an unrelenting keenness

Andrew Robertson of Liverpool celebrates after winning the League Cup. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Andy Robertson tells that story about how he reacted to Liverpool’s loss in the 2018 Champions League final to Real Madrid. The game was in Kyiv, which meant a long flight back to Merseyside in the hours after Gareth Bale had left the Real bench to alter the destination of the trophy.

Robertson lay on the floor of the plane during the flight, discussing the game with Jordan Henderson and James Milner. They didn't sleep. When they arrived home, Robertson was still wide awake and while the rest of his house went to bed or to school, Robertson drove off to Homebase.

No doubt customers who had seen him on the pitch in Kiev at 10pm the previous night were shocked to witness him at 10am the next morning buying a barbecue set to "take frustrations out on some unsuspecting sausages".

From silverware to hardware. The story tells us something about Robertson.


He was just past his 24th birthday then and becoming the definition of the modern full-back – a fast-forward creator as well as a touch-tight defender. But Robertson is also a throwback footballer, with a personality moulded by the cultural modesty of a seemingly ordinary childhood in Glasgow, by family and friends for whom fame and success are not worth it if you lose the essential you.

Individual, unstaged humility is an important piece of any team. Personality, however, must be backed up by contribution and watching Liverpool’s victory in Brighton in early March – among fans in Liverpool – it was a notable reminder in a team containing talent such as Mo Salah and Luis Diaz, just what Robertson brings to Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The Scot has an energising presence on the pitch, an unrelenting keenness. He is a template player for Klopp.

Liverpool were playing catch-up then with Manchester City – as they have been all season – so any slip would allow City breathing space. Robertson would not consider it. Liverpool won 2-0 and on the following Monday City drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace. City's lead was down to four points and Liverpool had a game in hand.

The stats from Brighton confirmed what the eye had seen, that Robertson was the Liverpool player on the ball most often. He was the well where the team went for water.

A similar impression regarding his team value came 10 days ago when watching Manchester United's colourful disintegration at Anfield. Roy Keane made a few comments about United that night, of course, including: "This team isn't even likeable, there's no soul."

Keane’s punditry can be repetitive, and there is a focus on character over tactical analysis, but in the heat of this defeat, his opinion felt correct. Klopp’s team have soul. You can see it in their so-called left-back.

Liverpool were 2-0 ahead early in the game but the tempo had dropped a little when, in the 68th minute, Victor Lindelof tried to find Anthony Elanga with a straight pass. Robertson read it, intercepted it, raced forward 40 yards and Sadio Mane stroked in the third. Emphatically, the contest was over.

Technically and tactically, Robertson’s intervention was excellent and decisive, but it had the added benefit of rousing the crowd and utterly depressing United.

Keane must have looked and thought Robertson is one who would have made it in his dressing room at Old Trafford. Denis Irwin would surely agree.

Robertson is into his fifth season at Anfield and is past 200 appearances. He could be relaxed about his status, but there is an inner restlessness that manifests itself in games. He speaks of "the kind of insecurities that I have" and how they have driven him from rejection by Celtic to Queen's Park, then through Dundee United and Hull City. "I can never settle for what I've got."

He goes back to being a Celtic fan in the away end at Ibrox and watching Celtic lose – “I have laid in bed wondering why the players aren’t willing to die for the shirt like I would.” He accepts this is “irrational passion”.

This is the human, fan side of a man who went back to Glasgow while other players headed for Dubai in a break in the season.

At 28 there is maturity with increased responsibility – Robertson is Scotland captain and scored the first goal of the Steve Clarke era. This is the professional Robertson, who prides himself as much on defending as the assists for which he receives acclaim.

Those assists matter to him and to how Liverpool function as a team; but Liverpool have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight Premier League games. Robertson has played in them all.

In that time period they have won the League Cup, reached an FA Cup final and are on the cusp of another Champions League final. They are right there one point behind City with five games to go.

Last Sunday it was Robertson, popping up with a header against Everton to help keep them there. It was the breakthrough moment, again decisive, again rousing. Attitude, commitment – and ability – scores that goal.

Robertson may not be heralded as other Anfield players are, but his manager re-commits himself to the club because of people like Robertson. Klopp, and Robertson’s teammates, know how their soulful, likeable modernist propels this Liverpool chasing down history.

A different face of Newcastle

What sort of Newcastle United will Liverpool face at St. James' Park? It is a different one from November when Eddie Howe oversaw his first match from his Covid hotel room, a 3-3 draw with Brentford that left Newcastle bottom of the table.

Liverpool were 19 points ahead of Newcastle then and while the gap has grown to 36 points, no-one can say Newcastle are not an improved team. They are up to ninth in the table and have conceded one goal in their last four matches, all of which have been won. Even at 12. 30 St. James’ will be lively.

Aside from a 5-1 beating at Tottenham, Newcastle have not conceded two goals in a single game since Christmas. January, when the club spent £90m on, among others, defenders Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier and brought in Matt Target on loan, was pivotal clearly. Saudi wealth rather helps.

But Howe also dropped the captain, Jamaal Lascelles, and omitted Ciaran Clark and Jamal Lewis from the 25-man Premier League squad. These are significant decisions. They have been justified.

Howe was rarely portrayed as a defensive coach but having gone 1-0 up against a dismal Crystal Palace in the last home game, Newcastle spent the second half with ten men behind the ball.

This is the Newcastle United that Liverpool will face.