THEY don’t make them like James Milner any more — and sadly I don’t think they ever will again.
Against Bournemouth on Saturday the Liverpool stalwart showed once again he is a manager’s dream.
Players with the character of Milner are like gold dust these days.
And one of the great things about Liverpool is they don’t just have him — they have Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson among others.
You go back a few years and there were on-field managers galore.
The ones that stand out are Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Vincent Kompany, John Terry and Gary Neville.
It is a generation thing. Modern-day players need to be led because they are not given responsibility at a young age any more.
Even if not playing, Milner is important as he will be vocal… If you remove players like him, who do young players have to look up to?
Leaders were made from as young as 16 to 18, but not any more, because they are not asked to do anything, so it is difficult to develop the character.
When things start to turn against you during a game it can’t just be ‘carry on regardless’. You have to adapt to how the game is going and that is when the likes of Milner come to the fore, talking and shouting instructions — and making sure the team responds how the manager wants them to.
Players used to be so vocal, it used to be the norm. It is quite rare now though.
Even if he is not playing, Milner is important because you can guarantee he will be vocal before the match in the dressing-room, at half-time and after the final whistle.
Much was made on Saturday of him calling the players into a huddle and giving them a gee-up and getting everyone together.
The reason that is in the spotlight is because you don’t see it much any more — it used to happen all the time. It will soon go out of the game.
You get the impression Milner is always there to give guidance to young players, to have a chat when things are going right, to put an arm around a shoulder or even a boot up the backside.
If you remove players like Milner from the dressing room who do young players have to look up to?
And where he can be so valuable is when a youngster has something about his game that is troubling him, but doesn’t want to go to the manager because he fears he will think he is not up to the job and he’ll drop him.
Having a player like Milner in your squad means the youngster can take his concerns to a senior player knowing it will go no further — and that he will get some great advice in the process.