Andrew Robertson spent the first half of 2017 finishing his third year at Hull City and helping them secure promotion to the Premier League. He spent the second half of the year at Liverpool FC, mostly warming the bench for the left back position behind the much criticized Alberto Moreno and veteran midfielder James Milner.
But then something clicked for the left back in January. Robertson came out of the gates flying in 2018 and was arguably the Premier League’s best left back for the second half of the season. His performances helped propel Liverpool to the Champions League Final, knocking out eventual Premier League Champions Manchester City en route to the showpiece event.
“It’s a big step from where I was 18 months ago,” Robertson said. “It's when you have time to think about it (that) you realize how crazy it all is.”
Unlike most of his other Liverpool teammates, Robertson was barely known outside some quarters in England before signing for the club. After the year he had, however, he is being serenaded across the United States just as much as some of his more senior teammates like James Milner or Adam Lallana.
It was a little surreal for Robertson to come to the United States and see that reaction from the fans, and he is trying to take it in as much as he can.
“I’ve never been to America before, but the American fans are always so enthusiastic,” Robertson said. “It’s great to see a lot of them show up for the game, and for the open training session.”
Last year, due to his transfer taking longer than expected, Robertson missed out on most of Liverpool’s preseason. Hull City wanted to keep him, and because of that, transfer talks dragged on. By the time preseason rolled around Robertson was still at Hull, but with a transfer imminent, he didn’t get any game time.
When Liverpool finally signed him for what now seems like a bargain at £8 million, he had already missed the team’s preseason trip to Hong Kong where they were getting ready for the start of the next season.
“My preseason last season was very disrupted, I think for the first three weeks of preseason I was with Hull.” Robertson said. “It was a tough one (preseason) last season and I missed Hong Kong which is a big loss and I was playing catch-up from there.
“I missed out on most of that (team bonding). Here in hotels we spend a lot of time together, 24/7 really, travelling together constantly.”
Because of what his summer was like last year, Robertson knows the importance of the preseason for new signings, with Liverpool having made quite a few the last few months. He hopes to help his new teammates settle in and make the process easier for them.
“I think Naby (Keita) and Fab(inho) are already there (settled into the squad) now, and hopefully (Xherdan) Shaqiri will get there soon in the next few days,” Robertson said. “I had an appearance with Shaqiri in New York, and I got to know him in the taxi and had a nice laugh, and hopefully that will help him settle in.”
Despite being only 24 and in his second season at the club, Robertson is already playing a more senior role in the squad next season as he helps his new teammates settle in. Judging by Shaqiri’s heroic cameo in the Liverpool – Manchester United derby, it appears Robertson’s taxi ride did a rather nice job in getting the Swiss international comfortable in the squad.
A reliable defender, often making goal saving tackles, Robertson was a nuisance to deal with for oppositions. The highlight of his season probably came in the Champions League Final when Cristiano Ronaldo was bearing down on goal. With only Loris Karius to beat, Ronaldo wound up a shot destined for the back of the net, only for Robertson to block the effort with a sliding tackle comprised of impeccable timing, technique and grit.
In the current state of soccer, the role of the fullback has become as important as ever. Often tasked with spreading play wide, making overlapping runs, and putting in crosses, their role in creating goals is almost as significant as their part in stopping them.
Robertson added a solitary goal to his Liverpool career against Brighton with six minutes left in the Premier League season. He added five assists to his repertoire last season as well, proving to be no slouch in the final third and proving capable of whipping in a dangerous ball for Liverpool’s fearsome attack when needed.
Training with his team from the very beginning the second time around, Robertson — not one to rest on his laurels — is looking to make further improvements in his game.
“Competition for places in the squad is massive,” Robertson said. “It’ll probably be me and Alberto fighting for the LB spot, and we’ll both be trying to get the jersey. I finished last season with it, so I need to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully the gaffer puts his faith in me.
“I'm trying to get my head down and work hard in preseason, and (I) can't wait for the first game of the season.”
If having a full preseason under his belt can help him improve on his form from last season, Liverpool fans will be just as excited — if not more so — for the start of the Premier League as Andy Robertson.