Andy Robertson has written what he unashamedly describes as “a love letter to all my teammates” and, after what they have achieved together at Liverpool, it is easy to understand why. His conviction there is more to come from the Premier League champions, however, is not based on blind devotion or the arrival of Thiago Alcântara.
“If the club buys players it will be to improve the squad,” says the Liverpool left-back. “That is always welcomed. And if they don’t we have a squad that can compete on all fronts. That is what we believe. We have a squad with young lads who are getting better every day. Our squad can compete for the four trophies we are going for.”
Robertson’s confidence is a retort to some of the questions asked of Liverpool since the 30-year wait for the league title ended in July. The signing of the commanding Bayern Munich midfielder will answer those about financial will and freshening up a settled squad. Those about the mental strength required to sustain Liverpool’s remarkable level for a fourth consecutive campaign must be addressed within and, as Leeds discovered despite their eye-catching start at Anfield last weekend, the champions’ relentlessness in pursuit of victory remains untouched.
“Every season we’ve been questioned,” the Scotland captain says. “When we lost the Champions League final everyone thought: ‘Will they be back or was it a one-off season?’ The next season we won the Champions League and just fell short in the Premier League. Even then people said: ‘If they didn’t beat Man City this season, they’re never going to beat them,’ because of how well we’d done. The following season we went and proved it.
“We’ve got doubters again, of course we do. We’ve got people that are backing different teams and that’s part of the fun of it. We’re not going to change the way we think or the way we go about our business. It’s worked quite successfully the last three seasons so why would we change our ways?
“Around Melwood, us winning the league has not been mentioned. It’s been forgotten about in terms of on the pitch, the way we train and the way we play. It’s pointless resting on your laurels and thinking: ‘OK, we’re champions, people need to come out and get us.’ We need to set our standards again. We’re aiming to set the standard again and be top of the tree but we’ve got a lot of people that want to do that as well.”
Chelsea, Liverpool’s opponents on Sunday, being one. An outlay of more than £200m on new talent this summer, including the former Liverpool target Timo Werner, represents a statement of intent. It also reflects the chasm that existed last season between Jürgen Klopp’s team and their rivals. That £200m is just to catch up with champions who, with the title won and a trophy presentation in the back of their minds, dismantled Chelsea 5-3 in their final home game of last season. Frank Lampard’s well-publicised spat with the Liverpool bench – principally the assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders – adds a little needle to the competitive edge.
“These things are not that bad,” Robertson says of that touchline exchange. “When there are 50,000‑60,000 fans in the ground these things happen a lot more regularly but maybe without the punters you are getting to see that side of the game a bit more now. Obviously, there was video of Frank at the end of last season but he apologised for it. He used language you wouldn’t use but that is the emotion of the game. He’s a young manager who’s done unbelievably well for Chelsea so far.
“Chelsea are one of our closest rivals, and there is always an edge when you play them just like when we play Manchester City, Manchester United or whoever. There’s always the bragging rights, of trying to win the league. Chelsea have been successful in doing that in the last 10-15 years, we are starting to try and be successful again. These are the things that come with it.”
That success is documented in Robertson’s new book – Robbo: Now You’re Gonna Believe Us – a diary of Liverpool’s title-winning season that the defender admits he was “nervous and apprehensive” to commit to. He was swayed by the benefits the book will have for his charitable foundation.
“I have started my own charity – AR26 – to help underprivileged kids. All the proceeds of the book will go towards that. That is one of the main reasons I did it, to know I can make a difference and help kids who are not as fortunate as others. It is definitely worth putting a few letters on a piece of paper and writing about a fantastic story. Hopefully the money raised can make a big difference.
“The lads will all be giving me the money for a copy! No, to be honest I’ve been sent copies to Melwood and I’ve given them all one. It is like a love letter to them all, so hopefully they like what I have said about them. I’ve given everyone a copy but they all want the audiobook. They’re down with the kids now, 2020 and all that.”