February 2016, and Trent Alexander-Arnold couldn’t quite accept what was happening.
Liverpool’s right-back kept lagging behind winger Brandon Barker when Manchester City won 3-0 in Anfield.
The then 17-year-old Alexander-Arnold competed for the then U21 selection for the first time after he had climbed out of the U18. It was a chastising experience.
“It was one of the first times that I played right-back,” said the defender, later thinking about the afternoon. “I hadn’t played there too often.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult games I’ve ever had. It brings back bad memories to me, but it̵
The previous day, a 21-year-old Andy Robertson was struggling with his own disappointment when he was part of a Hull City team that lost 1-0 at Burnley, despite leading the championship.
18 months fast forward, and the two competed together for the first time for Liverpool in the Premier League.
Alexander-Arnold, who had proven to be a fast learner, made his full league debut in Old Trafford in January 2017, while Robertson in Hull had impressed enough to earn a £ 8m transfer to Anfield in the summer.
But their September game against Burnley was one of only four games in the Premier League on the same starting line-up in the first half of the season – and one of them in Brighton and Hove Albion saw the duo as a full-back.
While Robertson’s long adjustment phase is known, it’s easy to forget that Alexander-Arnold fought with Joe Gomez for the right-back.
Only in February did he start three consecutive league games. At this point, Robertson had initially established himself as a regular left-back due to an injury to Alberto Moreno.
They haven’t looked back since, perhaps the best offensive full-back pairing in world football.
In the 27 Premier League games in which they played together last season, they received 22 assists. During this period, there are 20 out of 29 games.
The 21-year-old Alexander-Arnold is not only an integral part of the team, but also an excellent ambassador for the club, a role model for the prospects of the academy and the fans as a whole.
In addition, he is of course the scouser in the Liverpool team that has dominated Europe and the world and is now finally the English champion.
He has also redefined the role of the right-back and has essentially become the playmaker of the Reds.
The highlight was his appearance in Boxing Day’s 4-0 win in Leicester City when he got two assists before sealing the win with an arrow from Carlos Albertoesque in the lower corner.
Past and present players, who can usually see a talent well, couldn’t help but be impressed.
“Alexander-Arnold” tweeted former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano while Gary Lineker said, “He’s just a joke. Fantastic footballer.”
Anyone who had made a fleeting announcement in the years before Alexander-Arnold’s breakthrough at the Liverpool Academy would not have been completely surprised by his influence.
And in retrospect, it should have been obvious that Robertson would also be a complete success in the club.
With the infectious enthusiasm of Joey Jones and the progressive game of Steve Nicol and Alan Kennedy, Robertson is a mix of popular defending champions with the Reds.
Oh, and he happens to be Scottish.
The influence of North of the Border was so widespread with every successful bid for a Liverpool championship that photographers in the late 1970s and early 1980s routinely asked for “Jock Pictures” in which Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness published the latest hard demonstrations. earned cutlery. Steve Nicol, Gary Gillespie and John Wark were also later involved.
Gary McAllister was at the heart of the Cup triplet in 2001, and Charlie Adam won a League Cup in 2012, but otherwise the Scottish representation has been poor since the 1990 title triumph.
Now Robertson has restored the balance. “He’s been the best left-back in England and maybe Europe for two years,” said Danny Rose, who was part of the Tottenham Hotspur team that beat Liverpool in the Champions League final last year.
“He’s the one I want to catch without a doubt. He’s the best. Andy Robertson looks like a freak of nature. He’s just awesome.”
The last word, however, has to go to Jürgen Klopp, whose approach to the game, confidence in the youth and the eye for a player made it possible for the duo to thrive so well.
“Not many boys want to say they want to be a full-back, but they are much more important now,” said the chief of the Reds.
“The game has changed and you have to be really strong defensively, but now the teams are clearing the wings for the full-backs. You have to have the football quality to flank at the other end.”
Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have not only changed Liverpool. You have changed the perception of the role of model defender for a new era.
And of course they are champions of the Premier League.