Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer
22 December 2018 • 10:30pm
The Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson says that he and his team-mates have an understanding that they can speak to one another as frankly as they like on the pitch, and that even the senior players must expect to have their shortcomings pointed out.
The Scottish left-back was talking in the aftermath of Friday’s 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers that put Liverpool on top for Christmas, during which he said there were a “couple of arguments” between the Liverpool players. Robertson said that the squad’s robust attitude to criticism – the giving and the taking of it – was one of the strengths of their remarkable unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
He said: “There were a couple of arguments out there today. A couple of things that needed to be said – and they were said. We all have the attitude that if someone says something to you, you have to take it on the chin and if you don't agree with it, you deal with it at full-time or half-time and speak to one another.
“When you are out on the pitch and it’s 100 miles an hour you don't have time to discuss why something was said to you. We have spoken together as a team. We do discuss things. We have said that's it's having that honesty between us which is important.
“Whether it's the youngest player, someone like Trent [Alexander-Arnold] tells you to do something and he believes it's right, then you do it. And you can go back and ask Trent for an explanation later – if you haven't agreed with it, obviously. When people are arguing on the pitch, it can have a negative effect and you can get distracted. I think that's something the lads have done really well since the start of the season. It shows the respect between us.”
Robertson said that the squad started the season in the belief that they could win the title. On Boxing Day they will face Newcastle United and victory will mean they have dropped just six points in the first half of the season, putting them on course to potentially break Manchester City’s 100-point record set last season when they won the league.
“We believed we could fight for it from the start of the season,” Robertson said. “Whether or not we could be contenders you only find out at the end of the season. When someone has that ‘C’ next to their name on the Premier League table. Whether that's us Manchester City or Tottenham, whoever, that's when it's over.”
Virgil Van Dijk scored his first goal in the Premier League for Liverpool against Wolves and team-mate Sadio Mane says that the Dutch defender had made such a major difference his £75 million fee had ceased to be an issue. Mane said: “I said to Virgil: 'Finally, you have scored in the Premier League for us.' Everyone is happy for him and he's such a good player that I'm sure that more goals will follow for him.
“It's been a big, big impact [Van Dijk has made]. We've all seen it. Of course at the time people were thinking that the club had over-paid for Virgil. But since then everyone has forgotten about the fee because his form has been so good. He's done such a great job for us back there. I am so happy to have him as a team-mate. He's one of the leaders. You can see it in every single game. He has proved he's one of the best defenders in the world.”
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