Liverpool’s Andy Robertson deserves Player of the Year award more than Mohamed Salah

Klopp responds to Guardiola's latest praise of Liverpool

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When the voting closes this week for the Footballer of the Year it is a reasonable assumption that the tallest pile will probably be next to the name of Mohamed Salah. The overwhelming majority of the Football Writers’ Association winners since the inaugural recipient Stanley Matthews in 1947-48 have been attacking players. 

Goals turn heads and Salah is in the clear as the Premier League’s leading scorer, despite clearing off to the Africa Cup of Nations for part of the season. Salah has been outstanding – there is no question about that – and if he does win there will be few dissenters but there is an alternative case to be made for his Liverpool team-mate, Andy Robertson. 

If one player has epitomised Liverpool’s mentality on their quadruple quest, it has been Robertson. He has been the side’s conscience on their incredible journey. To him, no tackle has been unwinnable, no chase a lost cause.

He was at it again at Anfield in midweek. Even with Liverpool leading comfortably against Manchester United, he was chasing back as if the last train out of Saigon was about to depart to make sure of a clean sheet. The fire never dims in those eyes. No wonder Jurgen Klopp loves him. No wonder The Kop revere him.

He can occasionally go over the edge – the one blip in his season was the red card against Tottenham in December for a dangerous tackle on Emerson Royal – but by and large this campaign has been one of simmering excellence from the Scotland captain who has been a leader for Liverpool too. The manically driven defence has been only half the story. 

Only two players have created more chances than Robertson in the Premier League this season. He has 10 assists, two shy of team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Salah. He may not have the flair of Alexander-Arnold when it comes to the crowd-pleasing cross-field switch but his killer delivery into what he refers to as the corridor of uncertainty – between the defence and the goalkeeper – for the likes of Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota to finish, has become pinpoint. 

The two full-backs’ Duracell-bunny runs down the flanks are critical to the way Klopp’s side play and critical contributors to their potency. Liverpool go into Sunday’s Merseyside derby against Everton as the league’s leading scorers this season. Alexander-Arnold would make a shortlist for Player of the Year too but pick one between him and Robertson to defend for your life and there is only one answer.

To think he only cost Liverpool £8m from Hull City. It was like snapping up an Armani suit from a jumble sale. When he arrived in 2017, he knew he was joining a storied club but he can hardly have considered he might one day be part of Liverpool’s – and English football’s – greatest team. They are within touching distance – 10 games – of football immortality now.

Can they do it? One trophy is already in the bag, the squad is fit and they are flying into the home straight. Liverpool, after despatching both Manchester clubs in their last two matches, have lost just one of their last 25 matches in all competitions.

Their Champions League semi-final draw against Villarreal is kind – you would expect them to reach the final without too many headaches – but there are no guarantees beyond that. A Paris date with Manchester City or Real Madrid, as against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, is a toss-up game.

As for the Premier League, Liverpool have performed miracles to reel in City and turn the conclusion of the marathon into a sprint finish but their run-in is the more challenging on paper. 

While Everton, flailing against relegation and as down on their luck at Anfield over the past 20 years as a tramp with a wet woodbine, should not present too much of a hurdle, there are banana-skin games to come on the road. 

In-form Newcastle will be a danger, as will Southampton and Aston Villa at home. Just imagine if Steven Gerrard was the man to end the dream. Logic dictates that four trophies out of four will prove beyond Liverpool in the end but you can be sure Robertson will be emptying his soul, as he has all season, to make the impossible happen. 

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