Andy Robertson: ‘We don’t deserve anything yet. The league shows that’ | Football
Kiev is boxed off and parked in the past for Andy Robertson, whose shuddering return to earth after last season’s Champions League final included buying a barbecue in Homebase the following day, but the brutal lesson in what it takes to win European football’s greatest prize has not been forgotten. That much is clear in his blunt dismissal of the theory that Liverpool’s season of 97 Premier League points and the greatest comeback in Anfield’s European history deserves a crowning glory.
“I’ve heard a few people say that but, for me, we don’t deserve anything yet,” says the Scotland captain. “The Premier League shows that. A lot of people would say 97 points deserves the Premier League but it didn’t because Manchester City got 98. They were that little bit better than us in the end. We deserve nothing, only what we put into the game and what we get out. If we have 100% effort and have a good game, play to our best, then we’ll deserve it. But we aren’t going into the game thinking we deserve it because we’ve had a good season and got 97 points. Never. That’d be stupid of us.”
Robertson’s single-mindedness reflects Liverpool’s business-like approach to Saturday’s final against Tottenham. There was a noticeable reluctance among Jürgen Klopp and his players to dwell on Liverpool’s European history, recent or otherwise, at the club’s media day on Tuesday. History is theirs to make, as the manager likes to say, and Klopp captured the different mindset perfectly with his admission that, whereas Liverpool were happy to be in Kiev last May, “this year we wanted to win it wherever it is”. In that vein, the left-back is content for others to talk about following in the footsteps of players such as Alan Kennedy while he focuses on winning in Madrid.
The 25-year-old says of comparisons to Liverpool’s past European champions: “We had that last season, remember, and we fell short. We let other people think about that once we’ve won it, and if they want to put our name next to them then so be it. We just think we need to win trophies to be a successful team, whether that’s on Saturday, next season or the season after. We won’t stop trying. This club, the size of it, and these fans, deserve trophies. But we know how hard it is to produce. We’ve found that out this season but hopefully we can get over that final step and get the first trophy for the squad and the manager. It’s massive for all of us.”
Unlike several teammates, Robertson is unconvinced the manner of defeat by Real Madrid last year will provide added motivation or an invaluable experience in the Spanish capital. “I can only speak personally but I think last year we were relaxed too,” he says. “That’s the kind of squad we have – nothing fazes us.
“We knew what we were up against last season and we know what we’re up against this season. Both teams have got big-game experience, which can help, but I don’t think last season has any bearing on this. It’s a different challenge, a different team, a different set-up. Maybe we’ll know more when the game kicks off and we can look back and say it made a difference, but right now it doesn’t feel that way.”
A bigger influence on the outcome, Robertson believes, will be the form Klopp’s team showed with remarkable consistency throughout the Premier League campaign and when it mattered most in the semi-final against Barcelona. That is mirrored in Robertson’s return of 11 Premier League assists and two in the Champions League. His confidence in it continuing after three weeks without a competitive game is unmistakable.
“We’ve been ruthless this season and we need to be ruthless again. But I’ve watched Tottenham over the last three or four years under Pochettino and they’re a ruthless team as well. The way they go about things and the way they win games, they destroy teams at times. They beat us last season and if they perform like that then we’ll be in for a hell of a game against a fantastic team with fantastic players.
“At the top end of the Premier League, you have to be ruthless. Even just to get in the top four is hard. If we can take that into our game, I believe we have enough to win it, but we have to prove it. We have to show the team that’s played the last 10 months of the season.”
Robertson had invited around 20 family members to his home in Formby the day after last season’s Champions League final and only realised late on that a barbecue was required. Hours after denying Cristiano Ronaldo another Champions League goal with a sublime challenge in Kiev, he found himself wandering around Homebase with his father, Brian.
“Hopefully we’ve not got that nonsense again!” he says. “I’ve still got that barbecue so at least there’ll be no need to go to Homebase. Obviously we’re hoping for much happier feelings. Last year was a massive disappointment, there’s no hiding away from that. Hopefully we’re feeling better this time but we know what hard work has to go in to achieve that. If we can do that it’ll be a better party.”