YAYA Toure. It’s funny how the brain works sometimes, writes PAUL COPE. The TAW lads asked me to do a piece on James Milner for the new season, and the first thing that popped into my head was Yaya Toure.
I’ve probably already lost some of you with that, but there will be a few who already know where I’m going with this.
I remember when we were selling Javier Mascherano to Barcelona and were being paid £18m for his transfer. At the same time, Manchester City were buying Barcelona’s defensive midfielder, Yaya Toure, for the princely sum of £24m.
I recall standing in pubs around the city, spouting my mouth off about how it was absolutely ludicrous that Barcelona were selling their current, fairly average, defensive midfielder for £6m more than they were paying for our much loved, ‘one-of-the-best-players-I’ve-ever-seen-in-that-position’ nasty little bastard. They obviously considered Masch to be an upgrade, otherwise why would they bother, so surely they should pay more for him than they were being paid for Toure?
Admittedly I hadn’t seen much of Yaya at that point. In all honesty I’ve never watched the other leagues in Europe much mainly because, well, you know, I’m really busy and important and barely have time to watch Liverpool, so there’s very little prospect of me making time to watch anyone else regularly as well. Anyway, aside from my busyness and important-ness, the point is that I did what we all do and judged Yaya Toure on a few snippets I’d seen of him and the fact that, logically, it made no sense to me that Barca could upgrade on a player while making a £6m profit, especially when I knew how good Mascherano was.
I didn’t know this at the time, but Toure had only scored six goals in 117 games for Barcelona. At one point he was played at centre back (including the Champions League final in 2009) but ultimately wasn’t fancied by Pep in the centre of his dynamic midfield and so was shipped off to City.
What happened next led to me feeling a little bit daft about my initial judgment of players who I’d never really watched. In my defence, even if I had watched him play for Barca, I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have been exclaiming to everyone that Pep Guardiola was an idiot and anyone with two brain cells could see that Toure was a goalscoring midfielder in waiting.
His record to date at City? 221 games, 67 goals. Just under a goal every three games. And all that while spending a fair amount of time under Mancini still playing in a defensive midfield role. I think most of us recall the standard Mancini move when needing a goal during his era: “In case of emergency, break glass and move Toure 10 yards further forward.”
So Paul, you might say, why when writing an article on James Milner have you spent so much time banging on about Yaya Toure?
I’m glad you asked.
You see, I have a vision of James Milner — but it probably isn’t the same vision that most people have of him. I think since joining the gang of mega stars at Manchester City, Milner has been labelled as a reliable pro. A never ending bundle of energy that will do a solid job for you and won’t stop running. Ever. I think some fans will give him a bit of credit for having “more ability than you think”, which is basically damning him with faint praise. In fairness, the sensible reds will say that it was Milner’s introduction (albeit as a wide midfielder) that led to our punch-drunk game against City in 2013-2014 turning in their favour and them coming back from 2-0 down.
But just listen to this:
Playing as a central midfielder with Aston Villa, Milner was named PFA Young Player of the Season and in the PFA Team of the Season for the 2009–10 Premier League season, scoring 12 goals.
This is why when asked about James Milner coming to Liverpool to play in central midfield I can’t help but think of Yaya Toure. James Milner wanted to leave City despite a reliable source telling me that they offered to pay him Jan Molby’s body weight in diamond encrusted gold bullion every week (sorry, Jan), because he wanted to remember what it was like to be that lad who played for Aston Villa — who everyone thought was a goalscoring, attacking midfielder with flair and skill who could score and create goals with both feet. The lad who City wanted to pay £26m for. Twenty six million quid. As Milner said himself: “Manchester City were not interested in me when I was playing out-wide at Newcastle.”
The irony isn’t lost on me that he comes into the side in place of a lad who played for us who decided he wanted to remember a similar thing, and on his debut at his new club in California scored one, created one and hit the bar with a free kick, making him “feel like a kid” again.
We all like James Milner. It’s been refreshing for once to have something happen at LFC that everyone agrees on. Milner is a very good signing — especially on a free.
But I think the beauty is this. For once everyone is happy because they think they know exactly what they’re getting. They think they’re getting a really hard working, reliable pro who will never stop running. Ever. Some think we’ll get a bit more than that. I know Neil Atkinson sees Milner playing at the tip of the diamond at times, with his ability to play with his back to goal being a key asset.
I can see that happening at times too, but I see him as more than that. I see him as a rampaging attacking midfielder, running from deep, exchanging cute little one-twos on the edge of the box before smashing a shot with either foot into the top corner. I see him doing step overs, sliding passes, whipping crosses, sprinting, hassling, annoying, never ending, but always, always with a level of ability and panache that has been largely forgotten along the way. I see Milner showing why he decided that the number seven shirt wouldn’t be too heavy for him, because he’s sick of playing second fiddle to players who are favoured simply because they cost more money or have a foreign name.
Sometimes players are capable of more than you think.
I see James Milner scoring 15 goals from midfield and getting 10 assists.
Don’t believe me? Just watch.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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I am a Man City fan and this is one of the best articles I have read for a while.
Absolutely gutted Milner left but wish the lad nothing but the best. He would start in centre midfield for Man City every game for me.
Also his dead balls are second to none.
As a city fan I am sorry to see Milner leave, He was always relaibale and gave everything for the club and I don’t know one City fan who is glad he has gone. He is so underated, Its unbaleivable that pundits and fans question his inclusion in the England squad maybe that will change now he has joined LFC Quality player. I wish him luck but hope he is injured when you face the mighty Man city
I wouldn’t want to pop your bubble too much but Milner has taken a pay increase to join Liverpool (£135K/wk + add ons at City, £150K/wk at Anfield) and has never scored 15 goals in any season, whichever position he had played (central/wide midfield, right back or striker).
In the last 14 seasons he has played 527 games and scored 59 goals, that equates to 4.2 goals per 37.6 games.
He is a hard working player but a 1 minute YouTube highlights clip, from over 45,000 minutes played, hardly adds credence to your argument!
As a City fan, I would’ve liked to keep Milner, due to his work rate and versatility. He is a good pro and a decent player. He will serve you well but I would keep your excitement contained, until you get to watch your new Yaya, week in, week out.
Whats next? Two years of quality before he ages noticeably and his contract becomes a massive albatross around our neck
That’s the spirit.
Spirit of the truth? Unless you think a 33 year old James Milner will be worth £135k per week?
It’s not your money, don’t worry about it. Why don’t you just enjoy the two years before his hypothetical drop off?
“Its not your money”
Heard that argument before and its remarkably stupid. For a start, it is my money. Its all our money. Everyone who has bought a ticket or a shirt. But that isnt even the point.
Should Leeds fans not have worried about the amount they were spending on transfers and wages? No. Sure it wasn’t there money?
If we aren’t concerned about the financial health of the club as well as whats happening on the pitch then we really don’t care about the club. Might as well not be fans at all.
A well written piece,as a City fan I can appreciate your hopes for Milner,one thing he won’t do though is score 15 goals and unless his crossing improves drastically neither will he provide 10 assists.
LFC has sadly become either a retirement home for fading players or young potential wanna-be’s. Milner saw an opportunity where he can earn big money without the pressure of having to win things under the FSG-BR regime. Also heard he received an 8 million pounds signing on fee, conveniently undisclosed by the club completely unjustified for a 29 year old fading player.
Proper laugh you Reddo. Can we be mates?
3 seasons without a trophy
Getting battered 6-1 by Stoke
Losing 3-1 home and away to Palace
Finishing 6th having spent 120m?
Well if only there was something to laugh about.. Unless you’re a Man U fan I guess. Glad you’re enjoying the Rodgers experiment, clearly doesn’t hurt you to see the state this great club is in. SMH
So glad Milner has joined the club. He, along with Hendo, will bring an important physical presence and ability to read the game/play. He has a point to prove and i am really looking forward to watching him prove it.
Come on mate. New season, new players, new back room staff. Can we at least start with a positive outlook. There will be plenty of time to get all bitter when / if things don’t go to plan. If not, what’s the point in being a fan? We are supposed enjoy supporting the club. I’m sure there will be enough disappointments over the next 9 months for you to jump all over Rodgers for but for now I’m going to enjoy the fantasy of us running away with the league. I highly recommend it!
a massive drain on finances for an ageing trundler. We will never get shut of him
And I shall predict everything that happens this season.
And I predict that it will all be bad
And I shall be glad to be proven right.
For I am a Liverpool fan