Belfast Telegraph

Stirring fightback can give us title belief, says Milner

By Ian Herbert

Liverpool's James Milner insists the extraordinary comeback against Borussia Dortmund can imbue the side with the belief that "if we can beat them we can beat anyone" and be the catalyst for the return of silverware to Anfield.

Milner provided testament to manager Jurgen Klopp's extraordinary powers of motivation at half-time - which included the German reminding the players what Liverpool had achieved in Istanbul in 2005 - and he said that the club could be on the brink of the same breakthrough he experienced at Manchester City, where one piece of silverware brought much more.

The Reds twice came back from two goals down against the Europa League favourites to win 4-3 on the night, 5-4 on aggregate, with Dejan Lovren's added-time goal putting them into the semi-finals.

"It was the same when I was at City and we managed to win that first piece of silverware," said Milner, as he anticipated a last-four battle with Villarreal.

"You get that belief and hunger that we can go again. Hopefully this result will kick us on to do that and go on to win some silverware."

Milner, whose side face Bournemouth tomorrow, said the secret of Klopp's power of motivation at half-time, when Liverpool trailed 2-0 and required three goals to progress, was his calmness.

"I think it was the perfect atmosphere created at half-time," he said. "We knew we weren't in a great position. We knew we didn't start the game brilliantly, but we weren't really bad.

"It would have been easy for him to come in effing and blinding but he didn't.

"He was like: 'let's go for it. It is going to be difficult'. He said we are not playing too badly. It is a long way back but we have nothing to lose.

"We have lost the first-half, but you have nothing to lose, go out and do it. He obviously mentioned a certain night in Istanbul and said there have been other great nights in this club's history from a similar position so go out and see what happens."

Self-belief has not been easy to come by despite Klopp's ability to foster confidence.

"This result will do a lot," Milner said. "I have said at times this year that I don't think there is that belief there and the boys believe how good they are. It is a young team and sometimes we struggle for consistency."

For the 30-year-old, the assist for Lovren's winner was reward for a fine though uncelebrated contribution these past six months, in which he has been moved around repeatedly by the manager. He has provided 12 assists now this season.

"That has always been a strength of mine, creating goals over the years," he said.

"A lot of people see me as a runner, but I feel creating goals is one of my qualities and hopefully I can keep doing it."

As if evidence were needed, he had been audibly criticised for his crossing moments before supplying for Lovren.

"The first few went where they were meant to and there was no one there and the next few didn't," he said.

"It happens. I was delighted Studge (Daniel Sturridge) held it up well. The hardest part was running from the halfway line to be honest - I was pretty tired at that point.

"The only one that rivals (this one) was Bayern Munich away with City a few years ago when we were 2-0 down and managed to come back and win 3-2. We famously didn't know we needed one more to top the group and it ended in a disaster!

"But here, the atmosphere from driving in, the bus, the fans on the street, to come down from 2-0 down was amazing. The fans deserved it."

With a Champions League place on offer for the winners there is the temptation to put all their focus onto Europe - Liverpool are currently eighth in the Premier League, nine points behind fourth-placed City with a match in hand - but Milner dismissed that.

"We will try to win every game. It is important to try to finish strongly in the league," he added. "The performance was good last weekend against Stoke (a 4-1 win) and I think that contributed massively to the Dortmund result and gave us the momentum to keep winning games."

Belfast Telegraph


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