England player James Milner defends standard of Scottish football – and refuses to rule out Glasgow move
JAMES Milner believes the success of Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool proves that Scottish football is far better than its many detractors claim – and refused to rule out a move to one of the Glasgow clubs himself in future.
He played alongside Robertson, who started out Queen’s Park and Dundee United before moving to Hull City, and Van Dijk, who spent two years at Celtic before last season as the Anfield club went all the way to the final of the Champions League.
The left back and the centre half were both outstanding for Jurgen Klopp’s side in emphatic victories over Porto, Manchester City and Roma and performed superbly against eventual winners Real Madrid in the final in Kiev.
England midfielder Milner believes the way the duo have acquitted themselves since moving down south shows the game north of the border is of a far higher standard than its many critics suggest.
“I don’t know if Scottish football gets a bad rap because of the England Scotland banter thing,” he said. “But we are surrounded by people who tune into the Old Firm game. The league has been tough for Rangers given what they have gone through.
“I don’t have experience of Scottish football myself, but I have seen the players who have come down from Scotland over the years and know players who are playing in Scotland now. I think you can see how many good players there are.
“Some of things that are said are probably a bit disrespectful. It deserves respect because of the size of the two Glasgow clubs if nothing else. You can see the buzz around them, the amount of people who want to watch the Old Firm game, the crowds they get, the atmosphere they create.
“Speaking to any of the young lads who have come up here to get the experience they all say it is fantastic to come up here and have the opportunity play in games of that size with that pressure and that expectation and learn from it. It is brilliant for them.”
Milner is no stranger to massive derby matches having played for Leeds United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Manchester City as well as Liverpool in his distinguished playing career.
But the 32-year-old admitted he loves the Old Firm match and will be a fascinated onlooker when Celtic and Rangers meet for the first time in the 2018/19 campaign at Parkhead on Sunday.
“They are always good games to watch anyway, but there is a bit of added spice this time with the two managers (Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard) going up against each other and their history,” he said.
“It is going to be hard for Celtic to continue with the level of success they have had. To do it year in year out with that level of expectation isn’t easy. To churn results out every single week is hard.
“Obviously, Rangers, with their new manager, and the other teams, are maybe sniffing a mini-crisis at Celtic. Losing two games is a crisis at Celtic.
“Rangers will maybe sense a chink in their armour and will be pushing as well. It is going to be an exciting season north of the border and will be worth watching.”
Asked if he would consider a move to either Celtic or Rangers in future, Milner said: “I would never say never. You never know what is going to happen.”
James Milner will play for a Liverpool legends side against a Celtic greats team in A Match for Cancer at Celtic Park on Saturday, September 8. Tickets are now on sale priced £14 for adults and £6 for concessions.