James Milner made his full Liverpool debut versus Stoke City at the weekend, and put in a typically robust and energetic performance.
The England international was awarded our vice-captaincy by Brendan Rodgers last week, and seemed to enjoy his role as Jordan Henderson’s understudy, being vocal and encouraging his younger team-mates from his favoured central midfield position.
“It’s an amazing honour. Liverpool is an amazing club to be at,” the 29-year-old told lfc.tv.
“I don’t think it will change my role in any way; you need a lot of captains, vice-captains and leaders and people who are going to talk and help each other out.
“But it’s a great honour and hopefully I can help the younger guys along, because there is so much young talent here as well.”
There’s no greater talent at Liverpool right now than Coutinho of course, and Milner expressed his delight at watching the 23-year-old Brazilian magician secure us a memorable win with a 30-yard curler late on.
Last term, Coutinho scored similarly breathtaking goals versus Southampton and Bolton Wanderers, but this was probably the best he’s notched in a red shirt.
“I obviously saw him do it a few times last year – so to do it when he was on my team was nicer!” Milner continued.
“That’s what the game needed. It was a tough game, a battle; I thought we defended really well. It was going to take a moment of brilliance to win the game and we managed to get that.”
As well as praising Coutinho, the new vice-skipper singled out the back-four, who kept a clean-sheet at the Britannia just eleven weeks after conceding six at the same ground.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was solid, while two summer signings Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez didn’t put a foot wrong.
“We have got a lot of quality going forward, but a lot of credit goes to the whole team and the back four.
“Clyney looks like he’s been here for 10 years; Joe coming in for his first game in the Premier League playing against [Jonathan] Walters, who is an experienced pro, very clever and a tough player to play against – I thought he was outstanding and did a great job.
“The two centre-halves were brave and kept a really good line. That makes all the difference for us as a midfield and a team, keeping us high. I thought the boys at the back were brilliant.”
We got what we expected from Milner during his debut in truth, and it’s clear that his experience and consistency in the middle is going to be vital to our chances of putting together a run of solid results early on this campaign.