Welcome to World Class: Andy Robertson

Robbie Copeland
Dec 11, 2020, 2:00 PM GMT
Andy Robertson features in 90min's Welcome to World Class series as one of the game's best left backs
Andy Robertson features in 90min's Welcome to World Class series as one of the game's best left backs | Matt Burt/90min
facebooktwitterreddit

If you've been following 90min even loosely over the past fortnight or so, you will have become familiar with the term 'world class.'

Our team have worked tirelessly to quantify one of the most subjective debates in football, taking a number of categories into consideration; form, consistency, statistics, impact, accolades and many, many more to come up with a clear, definitive definition of the term that splits opinion perhaps more than any other in the footballing realm.

Yet no matter how you define 'world class,' it is not a tag we would ever have imagined ourselves pinning on Andy Robertson when he arrived at Liverpool from Hull City in 2017.

This was a player who was still establishing himself at the top level. Just four years earlier, Robertson had been playing for Queen's Park in his native Glasgow, plying his trade in the fourth tier of Scottish football. His rise to prominence had been sudden; an express train to the Premier League, via one successful season with Dundee United.

At £8m, then, he was seen as a bit of a punt. The opportunistic signing of a player who...well he'd be better than Alberto Moreno anyway, right?

Maybe over time he could develop into a decent enough left-back for the level Liverpool were at, but he wasn't going to set the heather alight.

He wasn't going to link up with Sadio Mane to devastating effect down the left flank, he wasn't going to get into double figures for assists year after year, nor would he form the left side of a formidable defence that would break records and take the club to heights unseen since the 1980s.

Serves us right for making assumptions.

Things started slowly for Robertson, but after getting a foothold in the Reds side in the latter part of the 2017/18 season, he was in no mood to look back. Quickly developing an understanding with Mane in front of him and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the other side of the pitch, Robertson has since evolved into the epitome of a world class full-back.

There is no metric in which he falls short. Other than Georginio Wijnaldum, no player has racked up more minutes for the Reds since his Premier League debut for the club, and his performances so rarely waver from the exceptionally high standards he sets for himself. Even when his side have an off-day - which does happen now and then, as the 7-2 thrashing at Aston Villa will attest - it is seldom Klopp's cheesily-labelled 'Scottish Braveheart' you can point the finger at.

Entering just his third full season, he has already won the Champions League, the Premier League, and holds the title of World Champion until the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup. Trophies? Check.

He's assisted more than 30 goals, averaging out at one every four games, for the side who had the best defensive record in the Premier League in 2018/19 and 2019/20. Statistics? Check.

He's been on fire for the past 12 months, for one of the best teams in the world, in one of the best leagues in the world, and has even captained Scotland to a first major tournament in more than 20 years. By my count that's four more checks.

Whatever metric you measure him against, Robertson is up there with the very best in the world.

In the eyes of many he still plays second fiddle to his right-sided team-mate on the other side of the pitch. That's because Trent Alexander-Arnold is the home-grown star, the generational talent who tends to grab the headlines with the big moments. He's that little bit more technically gifted, more likely to come up with the match-winning moment of quality: be it from a Hollywood cross or a 30-yard free-kick.

Robertson's fiery influence is a little more intangible than that and this is the only thing that holds him back from a complete clean sweep.

No player is perfect - but the Scotland captain is pretty damn close.

What endears him to the Liverpool faithful, and indeed his manager, is his humility. He has been able to reach the heights he has because he takes nothing for granted. But that is underpinned with a supreme confidence in his freakish abilities - he knows he has earned everything he has and won't let the condescending 'fairytale' narrative ascribe it to good fortune.

That confidence can come through as arrogance. Robertson was once left red in the face after an infamous incident with Lionel Messi in which he showed a lack of respect to a player he described as the 'greatest of all time.'. Yet it was that contemptuous attitude that helped Liverpool pull Barcelona's pants down and send them out of the Champions League despite bringing a 3-0 lead to Anfield from Camp Nou.

There isn't an aspect of Robertson's game you would change. He is one of a handful of players on the planet who has everything you would ask for in a world class player, and most of it in droves.

He might be a kid from Maryhill who came good, but don't let that detract from his status as one of the best on the planet at what he does.

facebooktwitterreddit