The renaissance of James Milner has been a joy to watch of late.
The 32-year-old is starting to look like one of Liverpool’s finest bits of business to date, arriving as a free transfer from Manchester City back in 2015.
There were concerns this season that his legs had finally gone and the engine was tiring, but in recent weeks, he has arguably been Liverpool’s finest player.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have grabbed all the headlines for their goals and skill, but Milner’s role in midfield was possibly the most impactful during the Reds’ 5-1 aggregate victory over City in the Champions League.
Amazingly, Milner managed to match the intensity of both Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne, protecting Jurgen Klopp’s defence and contributing in attack.
It really was a complete two-leg performance.
Liverpool’s vice-captain has proven his importance on the pitch and off of it, he’s just as influential.
As is probably obvious, his fitness and commitment to training is unparalleled. Per Daily Mail, Milner is always the first to arrive at Melwood and the last to leave, making the most of the gym and massages.
However, the really interesting parts of Milner’s importance to the club don’t really focus on his training, more his craving for organisation and order.
Dominic King writes: “Standards are important to him – Milner, Liverpool’s vice-captain, is the man who keeps on top of the fines system, set up by the players, if anyone is late – and an idea of how much a stickler he is for routine can be gauged in his pre-match routine.
“If Liverpool have a home game, the squad are permitted to stay at home but Milner, without fail, will check into the city centre hotel they use at 7pm the night before to ensure he gets the best possible night’s sleep. He is in game mode from that point.”
That’s how you set an example and keep order at a club.
Milner appears to be maintaining a fine balance at Liverpool. The likes of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah are more flamboyant and headline-grabbing, however, Milner’s actions reinforce the need for calm and order, which is essential at any top side.